These days, the relentless churn of blockbuster filmmaking and franchise building often sees sequels to big movies in development or officially announced before the first film ever hits theaters. This Friday’s Alita: Battle Angel is the first big cinematic spectacle of the year, and it would come as no surprise to hear that a sequel is already on the way. But that is not the case with Alita: Battle Angel, and producer James Cameron explained why:
Well, we obviously have a plan for that. But it's cheeky to set up a sequel before you're proven. That can blow back in your face. We think of something like Warcraft that was clearly set up with the intention to do sequels, and then it becomes mock-able because the film doesn't succeed. But I don't worry about stuff like that. If the film fails, it's its own punishment, you know? It doesn't matter if we get mocked on top of having failed.
Despite his wild success having directed the two biggest box office hits of all time, James Cameron doesn’t want to get ahead of himself with Alita: Battle Angel, which he co-wrote and produced as Robert Rodriguez directed. To him, setting up a sequel now, in advance of seeing how the first film does, would be putting the cart before the horse-- a bit of an arrogant move that brings to mind a saying about pride and falls.
James Cameron has a point in what he told Digital Spy in that regard. Ambitious movies that are clearly intended to set up sequels and start franchises become punching bags when they fail spectacularly, making any premature movements towards a sequel look like a foolhardy move borne of hubris. The producer cites Warcraft, but there is no shortage of similar films that were intended to launch franchises only to become jokes in hindsight (heck, we’ve written whole lists about them, which are far from all-encompassing).
Now, James Cameron clearly isn’t concerned with mockery, he just wants Alita: Battle Angel to prove itself on its own before moving forward with a sequel. He seems to be taking a wait and see approach, allowing the film’s success or failure to influence what happens next. That’s not to say there isn’t a plan for a sequel. As he said, they obviously have a plan for a sequel and are hoping to be able to make one, but they aren’t moving forward with it quite yet.
It’s interesting to hear that James Cameron isn’t planning a sequel to Alita: Battle Angel yet ,because one of the points of contention among some of the reviews for the film has been how much it seems to be setting up future movies. Some, like CinemaBlend’s own Mike Reyes in his review, really liked the film and hope that we get to see more of this world; whereas some other reviewers found that Alita commits that cardinal franchise sin of being a movie about setting up future movies.
Whether James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez get to move forward with an Alita 2 is far from certain. Box office tracking has the clearly expensive film set to lose a boatload domestically. But tracking is no guarantee and Alita: Battle Angel seems like the kind of movie foreign markets will eat up and elevate into the realm of a success.
You can check out Alita: Battle Angel and judge for yourself whether you want to see a sequel when it hits theaters this Friday, February 14. Make sure you know what ticket to buy and check out our release schedule for all the other franchise movies and franchise starters headed to theaters this year.