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James Cameron famously worked on bringing the Battle Angel Alita manga to life on the big screen for the better part of two decades, with the can getting continually kicked down the road due to development issues and Cameron's busy schedule. When the Titanic director finally handed off his passion project to director Robert Rodriguez to go hang out in the world of Pandora, he made sure that all the work he put in on Alita: Battle Angel was not for naught.
Robert Rodriguez told Digital Spy that James Cameron generously promised not to send him the 1,000 pages of notes he had done on Alita: Battle Angel, instead stating that he would only send him a meager 600 pages. Robert Rodriguez naively took this figure as a jest, only to find out that James Cameron was quite serious when a tome of notes for Alita: Battle Angel, 600 pages in width, arrived in the mail.
It just goes to show how much James Cameron cares about Alita and the ridiculous amount of work he put in over the years to get it right and bring it to the big screen. He obviously put a lot of thought into adapting the property and likely learned a ton of valuable lessons along the way.
So by giving Robert Rodriguez hundreds of pages of notes on the film, and a 15-minute presentation, artwork and story concepts, James Cameron gave Robert Rodriguez a head start and set him up for success. Robert Rodriguez ultimately was the one who directed the film, but all those notes had to help, even if they were somewhat overwhelming.
It’s like a group project in college: even if you’re the one saddled with writing the paper, it sure makes things easier when your group members do all of the research for you.
Intriguingly, James Cameron’s 600 of pages of notes, culled from 1,000, encompass a much larger vision than just one movie, as Robert Rodriguez explained:
There's like one whole document about the trilogy, because that's just part of his process. 'Here are three movies. Just so you know what to include in the first story and whatnot.'
James Cameron’s vision for Alita: Battle Angel extends beyond just one film and he already has it all laid out on paper, like what to include in the first movie and what will be saved for later. At a time when big franchises don’t always seem like they are operating with a firm plan or guiding vision in place, this is quite exciting.
The ending of the first film definitely whets the appetite to see what happens next and where the story goes. James Cameron knows the answer to that and has already mapped out a whole Alita trilogy, but whether he as producer and director Robert Rodriguez will get to tell it though is unknown.
Alita: Battle Angel is still Number 5 on the worldwide box office charts in 2019, but it’s unclear if that will be enough. Although domestic audiences did the film no favors, international box office elevated Alita’s worldwide run to $404.8 million. However, given its budget, the film may have needed $500 million to break even. So although it didn’t flop like it was suspected to, it isn’t an outright success either, making its sequel chances unclear.
Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to keep track of all of this year’s biggest movies.