A year ago today, producer James Cameron and director Robert Rodriguez’s sci-fi epic Alita: Battle Angel opened to eager audiences around the world. While the film performed modestly in its theatrical run, the lifespan this manga adaptation has taken on in its home video, and even the cable release, has seen its reputation grow. As a result, a sizable fandom continues waiting for news of a potential sequel.
As of this moment, no official announcement shutting down or confirming the development of an Alita: Battle Angel 2 has been issued. Rather, things are in a bit of a holding pattern, with folks like producer Jon Landau, who were involved with the production of Alita: Battle Angel, telling fans to let the film’s current studio owner, Disney, know they want more.
So in celebration of Alita: Battle Angel’s first birthday, and in the hopes of continuing to stoke the fires of a potential sequel, we’d like to go over some things to keep in mind as we wait for sequel news. Let's start with the most obvious question of this entire scenario.
Does Alita: Battle Angel Need A Sequel?
Just like most things in life, wanting a sequel and needing a sequel are two different things. By time we get to the end of Alita: Battle Angel’s finale, our heroine, played by Rosa Salazar, has a firm quest of vengeance and Motorball excellence laid ahead of her. On one hand, if we were only to have this one installment in the planned trilogy, we’d still have one breathtaking film.
That said, the original intent of Alita: Battle Angel was to set up those two other films James Cameron had originally wanted to make back when he was developing the project alongside Avatar. So the want for an Alita: Battle Angel 2 isn’t just born from the desires of the fandom to return to the world; it’s built right into the story structure that was sold from the beginning. That pretty much crosses into 'need' territory, as there’s more story already planned for the telling.
Alita: Battle Angel Has A Dedicated Fanbase Still Clamoring For A Sequel A Year Later
The internet has always been a sounding board for those passionate about various big ticket fandoms, like Star Wars and Star Trek. As of late though, there have been some properties that have ruled the airwaves a little more often, and Alita: Battle Angel is one of them. It's all thanks to the efforts of those who call themselves the Alita Army.
Through awareness campaigns, fundraising efforts that also contribute to philanthropic efforts, and even just flooding Twitter with reasons why Alita: Battle Angel 2 needs to happen, these diehards have been pushing for a return to Iron City and whatever other locales await in the Alita universe. Knowing the persistence of such a fanbase can be quite tenacious, the longer it takes to hear an official announcement, the more determined the Alita Army will become in their efforts.
The Fox/Disney Merger May Have Made Alita: Battle Angel 2 Less Of A Priority
Before Disney purchased 20th Century Fox and most of its various subsidiaries, the chances of an Alita: Battle Angel 2 happening seemed pretty shaky. Even with over $400 million grossed worldwide, the reward didn’t seem to justify the risk of diving right into another installment of Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron’s sci-fi stunner.
Now, with Disney and Fox completely merged together, there’s obviously going to be a pecking order as to which projects go into the production pipeline. Sadly, in a galaxy that includes Disney’s various live-action remakes/legacyquels, animated upstarts and an uncertain future connected to the Star Wars movies, it looks like Alita: Battle Angel 2 will have to compete with a lot of other cinematic siblings for its day in the sun.
Alita: Battle Angel 2 Will Have To Fight For Space On An Already Limited Slate
Even if priority wasn’t a concern for Alita: Battle Angel 2’s hypothetical production status, there’s another restriction that comes with the Disney merger’s completion. In recent news, it was announced that the production slate under the newly renamed 20th Century Studios was going to be on a shorter leash. More specifically, about five to six projects a year will be shepherded under the 20th Century Studios banner, once the inherited titles have been exhausted. With space already at a premium, an even more uphill battle could be in store for folks crossing their fingers that Alita: Battle Angel will take flight again.
One thing that comes to mind regarding this franchise’s potential future is the fact that, after a decade of waiting, the Avatar sequels are about to take off into the multiplex. Since Disney’s already going to be investing in that major sci-fi landscape, complete with James Cameron’s full and undivided attention, the execs might just feel that there’s too much of an overlap if it invests in both that and Alita: Battle Angel.
Disney Could Always Use Fresh Intellectual Property Like Alita: Battle Angel
Despite a limited production slate and major projects already in progress taking priority, the fact remains that not everything Disney plans on is going to break its way. There will always be gaps to fill in their theatrical output, and having access to properties like Alien, Planet of the Apes and Alita: Battle Angel will always be a good thing when it comes to addressing those scheduling holes.
Just as Disney has stated it's keen on keeping Alien and Planet of the Apes in the game, there could be room for Alita to become part of that menagerie of properties that keep Disney moving forward. Or at the very least, if Disney is looking for more IP to refresh its Epcot Center park with, it could always dedicate a portion of Future World to Alita: Battle Angel, and see just how much traffic it gets before deciding whether the film is still a viable moneymaker or not.
Scheduling Concerns Could Delay Alita: Battle Angel 2 Even Further
Another source for concern is the fact that should Alita: Battle Angel 2 get the green light in the near future, all involved will have to check their schedules to make sure they can possibly participate. With Rosa Salazar committed to Undone Season 2, Christoph Waltz having various projects on his plate, and now Edward Norton’s schedule being a concern thanks to his appearance as big bad Nova, this project may need to do a little bit of dancing to make it all happen.
Timing is always an issue with making something like Alita: Battle Angel 2 into a reality. So the longer it takes to accept or reject the call to make this particular film is something that could further complicate matters as time goes on. Should this delay lead to recasting, there’s not only going to need to be enough time to find replacements, but there’s also a chance that this could upset the fans who were looking forward to the return of the entire original cast; which only makes this prospect all the more shaky.
The Performance Of Avatar 2 Could Mean A Lot To Alita: Battle Angel 2
Perhaps the greatest worry that Disney might have to tackle before even thinking about an Alita: Battle Angel 2 is the fact that come December 2021, Avatar 2 will be in theaters. With a massive spend already allocated to the production of four sequels to James Cameron’s 2009 original, the bookkeepers in the studio offices are probably worried about just how the public will respond to one gigantic sci-fi world before reviving another.
As Avatar was once the highest grossing movie in the world, and it’s taken quite a bit of time and money to get to the next film in the series, there’s a massive bet that is about to either pay off or wipe out. Even this particular scenario is a double-edged sword, as if Avatar 2 succeeds, Disney might just want to park its money there. However, if it fails, that’s something that’s going to trigger more restructuring and damage control, which could muddy the waters even more.
Despite the corporate calculus that’s probably being calculated behind the scenes, there’s still room for Alita: Battle Angel 2 to exist. Even with Avatar in full swing and Star Wars scaling back to TV for the time being, there’s an opening that could very easily see the franchise return to the Christmas slot it was originally supposed to enjoy.
It’s been a year since Alita: Battle Angel made its presence known to the world, and hopefully it won’t take too much longer for this beloved cyborg warrior to come back to a theater near you. But if you’re a fan, you’re going to need to keep letting the world know you won’t rest until a new sequel is either approved or cancelled properly. Even in the case of a rejection, there’s the chance of another studio picking up the project, should Robert Rodriguez and James Cameron be motivated enough to push ahead.
For the moment, you can revisit Alita: Battle Angel during its current run on HBO, as well as on home video through all major formats and platforms.