Oscar winner Chloe Zhao may lose chance to direct ‘Eternals’ sequel after mixed reviews

Marvel’s “Eternals” doesn’t hit movie theaters until Nov. 5, but the Chloe Zhao-helmed superhero film has already received mixed reactions from critics.

All-time low: Starring Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Angelina Jolie, Salma Hayek, Kit Harington and more, “Eternals” currently has a 59% on Rotten Tomatoes out of 132 reviews, making it the lowest-rated Marvel film since “Thor: The Dark World” and “The Incredible Hulk.”

  • Zhao won two Oscars in 2020 for “Nomadland,” but a “trusted and proven” source for Giant Freakin Robot said the director could lose an opportunity to helm an “Eternals” sequel following low ratings.

  • Box office numbers and fan reactions come first above all else, but the mixed reviews could dissuade people from watching the movie in theaters.

Censorship: In a recent interview with IndieWire, the “Nomadland” Oscar winner said she hopes that countries won’t censor “Eternals” for depicting the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first openly gay superhero Phastos (played by Brian Tyree Henry).

  • “I don’t know all the details but I do believe discussions were had and there’s a big desire from Marvel and myself — we talked about this — to not change the cut of the movie,” she said. “Fingers crossed.”

  • Zhao pointed out that Phastos’ story had already been “written into the story” before she came on board to direct the film, but telling that story holds a special place with Zhao.

  • “To position that family in that specific situation and to have that moment feel authentic and real…the audience has to feel that to care,” she said. “Otherwise, there’s no point in putting that onscreen because they don’t feel it.”

  • This is not the first time Zhao has faced censorship. After a 2013 interview resurfaced showing the director criticizing China, streaming of the Oscars ceremony and news of Zhao’s win for “Nomadland” were blocked.

According to producer Nate Moore, “Eternals” could also work as a standalone film.

"It's not something that is a must-have,” he said of future sequels. “Obviously, we have ideas of where we could go, but there isn't a hard and fast rule where we have to have three of these things and this is the first.”

“If you just watch ‘Eternals,’ you can enjoy ‘Eternals,’ you can understand ‘Eternals’ and you're good to go,” Moore added.

Featured Image via Gage Skidmore (left; CC BY-SA 2.0), Marvel Studios (right)

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