Oscar Directors: Villeneuve, Dennis–Making Sci-Fi Films, Arrival and Blade Runner Sequel

Canadian director Dennis Villeneuve has emerged as one of the most talented–and busiest–filmmakers in the world over the past five years.

His Oscar-nominated Incendies had world premiered at the Venice Film Fest’s Venice Days section in 2010.  He has since directed “Prisoners” (2013), “Enemy” (also 2013), “Sicario” (2015), which remiered in Cannes Fest, and now Arrival, his first sci-fi pic, which world-premiered in Venice before segueing to Toronto.


Taking a brief break from the Budapest set of his untitled Blade Runner sequel, the director spoke to Variety about his sci-fi pics, and his way of working and control within the studio system.


I cannot say how I feel about Arrival because I have no distance from it. I finished the movie a few months ago, running because I was already in prep on the next one. This is not a process I recommend. It’s painful to do that. I have to be in two places at the same time. It’s very tough. The minute I finished Arrival I landed on another set in full prep on another project, the Blade Runner sequel.  I have no distance from the film. I need to digest it.

Sci-Fi Genre

I had been wanting to do sci-fi for a very long time. 2001: A Space Odyssey is a movie that really impressed me as a teenager, and “Blade Runner.” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” is also one of my favorites. I’m always looking for sci-fi material, and it’s difficult to find original and strong material that’s not just about weaponry. A dream of mine is to adapt Dune, but it’s a long process to get the rights, and I don’t think I will succeed.  I would love to write something myself. I have two sci-fi projects right now that are in very stages. It’s too early to talk about them.

“Arrival” and “Blade Runner”?

No connection, besides the fact that they are both science fiction. That’s why I was able to work on both at the same time. I was able to do that because the two projects have a totally different DNA. They are like a giraffe and an elephant.

“Arrival” as collaborative process with Paramount

I had total freedom to make the film.  Paramount really loved “Prisoners” and they were pissed off because they didn’t get “Sicario.” So when they saw the short story “Story of Your Life,” they just wrote a big check and said: “you can have final cut,” to which I just said: “Thank you.” But still, when you make a movie, it’s teamwork. The film was done in full freedom, but I think it’s nice that Paramount took it. It’s a strange beast for them, but they embraced it. They loved the movie.

Final cut on “Blade Runner” sequel?

I agreed to do it because the producers behind “Blade Runner” [Broderick Johnson, Andrew A. Kosove] are two friends. I made “Prisoners” with them, and I knew the environment they would create around me would be very secure. I don’t really have final cut on it. The thing I realized about final cut, is it’s the power of the best cut. I didn’t have final cut on “Prisoners,” but what you saw is the best cut. “Sicario” is a directors’ cut, “Arrival” is a directors’ cut. My relationship with the people I am working with is very strong. At the end of the day what will win is the best movie.