Alita: Battle Angel was a movie with a lot of ambition. It was a grand film with a huge budget that was designed very much to be the first film in a franchise. It was a movie so big that some of the film's biggest names had little more than cameo roles. One of those cameos was played by Jai Courtney. The role is so small that you'd be forgiven for missing it entirely, but the actor says that he was happy to do it simply because Robert Rodriguez was the man who asked him. According to the actor, he agreed to do it after getting a call from the director who told him...
There's this role, it's a little small on paper, but if this thing blows up, I'll need someone who I can rely on when we revisit it. And I was like, 'Fuck man, of course!' For Robert Rodriguez, I'm going to go down there and do it.
It seems that Jai Courtney had read for a couple of different roles in Alita: Battle Angel but, while he and Rodriguez wanted to work together, it seemed Alita wasn't quite the right time. However, Rodriguez then turned to Courtney when he needed somebody to fill the role of Motorball star Jashugan.
It seems that while Courtney's role was tiny in Alita: Battle Angel, the idea is that there is more to the character that we would see when and if sequels to the movie ever happen.
Of course, at this point, it's difficult to tell if a sequel is a real possibility or not. Alita struggled domestically, only bringing in about $85 million, but it did much better overseas and has a total gross of just over $400 million.
That a solid total number, but due to the film's fairly expensive budget, it's been suggested the movie needed to hit $500 million to be profitable, and it's clearly well below that mark. There's clearly an audience who got behind Alita, but it just may not be quite big enough. Although, one assumes that sequels could potentially be less expensive to produce since much of the technical groundwork has been done, so perhaps follow ups are possible.
Although, the other issue is that the first movie was a Fox production, which means that any subsequent movies would have to get the green light by Disney, which means convincing an entirely new set of executives to make your movie.
Courtney tells Business Insider that he has no clue what the future might hold for Alita and that he has zero expectations in that regard. It seems he didn't take the role for the sequel potential, but just to work with Robert Rodriguez, though one assumes if the sequel does happen he'll be even happier to have the chance to work with Rodriguez again.
Jai Courtney wasn't the only brief cameo that clearly was inserted because of future potential. Edward Norton also appeared in the film, as the man one assumes will be the main antagonist of any future movies.
In the modern movie landscape the franchise is king, and so a project like Alita was clearly always meant to be the first of many. Having said that, the movie practically requires a sequel simply because of the way it ended. It didn't simply leave the possibility of more story open, it left its own story before it was over.
It will be interesting to see if these cameos will ever get a chance to be fulfilled, or if these appearances in Alita: Battle Angel will just be interesting moments of trivia in a franchise that never happened.