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When James Cameron opted to finally hand off his passion project, an adaptation of the Battle Angel Alita manga, the person he gave it to (after he proved himself by fixing the script) was From Dusk Till Dawn director Robert Rodriguez. Rodriguez brought James Cameron’s vision to life in this year’s Alita: Battle Angel but that may or may not be the end of the story.
Alita: Battle Angel ended with a perfect jumping off point for a sequel and there is clearly more story to tell. So would Robert Rodriguez be the one to tell it if the opportunity presents itself? The director expressed his enthusiasm at the prospect, saying:
Oh yeah! I would love to come back and do that one. It was so fun. Working with Jim’s great, I thought Rosa was incredible, and the effects were just amazing, To think they would even be better by then for the sequel because they just keep evolving. Those guys at WETA are just at the top of their game. And just as a writing process, even if there isn’t a sequel, I got to see how Jim crafts his movies and stories. He outlines out several pictures just to let you know what to include in the first one and what not to include and what’s not necessary. There are so many mangas and so many places we can go that it would be pretty easy to come up with a second step.
Robert Rodriguez seems to have really enjoyed his experience making Alita: Battle Angel and the prospect of getting to do it again and build on the first movie is really appealing to him. In addition to working with James Cameron again and reuniting with the film’s star Rosa Salazar, who was indeed incredible, Robert Rodriguez brings up another great point to Nerd Reactor regarding Alita 2. Namely, that a sequel would in theory be even more technologically magnificent than the first film.
Alita: Battle Angel was a sumptuous and stunning film, and Robert Rodriguez is confident that a sequel would up the wow factor even more. As he says, the computer generated imagery and performance capture technology is continuing to evolve as time goes on. So the effects team at WETA that worked on the first film could do even more for Alita 2. Robert Rodriguez speaks as if he were only just a fan, excited to see more of this visually marvelous world.
Even if a sequel opportunity doesn’t present itself, Robert Rodriguez still sounds to be tremendously grateful for the experience of working on Alita: Battle Angel, where he got to work with James Cameron himself. He’s mentioned before how rewarding it was to learn from the Avatar director, and he goes into that more here-- speaking to how James Cameron franchise builds from the very first film, with what to include now and what to save for later.
Whether that later will ever come we don’t know, but if it does, there are plenty of directions Alita 2 could go. Like Robert Rodriguez says, it would be pretty easy to figure out the story of the next movie after the ending of the first film and James Cameron has hundreds of pages of notes with a whole trilogy's worth of ideas.
So will it happen? Who knows, Alita: Battle Angel ended its run with just under $405 million which is around $100 million less than the 3 times a movies production budget rule of thumb it may have needed. Fox is also under Disney now, so it will be the mouse’s decision what to do with the property.
Disney loves franchises and Cameron is giving it the Avatar sequels, so maybe the studio will throw him a bone and invest in more Alita. As of right now though it is unclear what the future holds for the battle angel, but if she takes flight again, it seems Robert Rodriguez would love to join her.