Of the three marquee anime adaptations in the works in Hollywood – Ghost in the Shell and Adam Wingard’s Death Note being the other two – Alita: Battle Angel is the one to emerge directly out of development hell, considering that Avatar director James Cameron has pushed to get the wheels in motion all the way back in 2003, at which time Guillermo del Toro was circling.
But Pandora came calling – as did the vast number of Avatar sequels – and Cameron has now passed on the mantle to Robert Rodriguez, director of such blood-thirsty noir hits as Machete and Sin City. Make no mistake, with a fall production start eyed, Alita: Battle Angel is finally beginning to coalesce at 20th Century Fox, and The Hollywood Reporter brings word today that the manga adaptation has tapped Preacher‘s Jackie Earle Haley in an undisclosed role. Sources close to THR do indicate that Haley is attached to the part of a malevolent cyborg, but we await official confirmation.
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Haley will now join Maze Runner alum Rosa Salazar and, potentially, Christoph Waltz for Battle Angel, with the former on board to assume the title role. Rooted in the 26th century, Yukito Kishiro’s manga chronicles the story of a “female cyborg (Salazar) that is discovered in a scrapyard by a scientist. With no memory of her previous life except her deadly martial-arts training, the woman becomes a bounty hunter, tracking down criminals. The action-adventure story is meant to serve as a backdrop to themes of self-discovery and the search for love.”
Said to come packing a production budget in the region of $175-$200 million, 20th Century Fox brass have revealed their desire to adapt “the spine story” of Yukito Kishiro’s original manga in the past. We’ll no doubt discover much more as Alita: Battle Angel creeps closer to a production start, so stay tuned.