Fans have been campaigning for an Alita: Battle Angel sequel for a while now, and based on how long it took the Snyder Cut of Justice League to finally happen, there’s no chance of them giving up anytime soon. With Disney now in control of the rights though, the Mouse House might end up deciding they don’t see a second outing as a worthwhile investment after the first movie earned a little over $400 million at the box office on a $170 million budget, in what’s a virtually identical situation to the one that’s seen Tron 3 stuck in development hell for a decade.
The movie itself had been in the works for nearly two decades before Robert Rodriguez finally got it over the finishing line and into theaters, with James Cameron announcing it as a directorial project for himself back in 2003 before he eventually apparently decided to spend the rest of his career on Pandora – though he remained onboard as producer, co-writer and a heavy creative influence.
After spending years trying to get the project off the ground, Rodriguez and Cameron must find it ironic that Alita: Battle Angel is generating more buzz now than it ever did in theaters, with the Sin City and Desperado filmmaker revealing in a recent interview the exhaustive lengths he and Cameron went to just to get their pitch approved by the studio.
“I know for Alita, it was the first time I had to do something in that scale and scope. Usually, I had a handful of drawings I made myself, or something that I’d edited myself or animated, and would take that and tell them basically what it is and we’d be off and going. This was going to be a huge financial commitment. So I went in, Jim and I said, ‘We’re gonna synchronize our watches, and take the hill!’. I was like, ‘Wow’. I had tons of art that he had done back in 2005 for Alita that I put up around the room. I had to actually write myself a whole script that I could go through, that was a synopsis of the movie, so they could hear the whole thing and feel the heart of the film and feel the reason why to do it. So it was a good 45 minute talk I had.”
Convincing the studio to invest a massive amount of money into a project that had spent nearly 20 years in development hell and wasn’t exactly an easy sell to general audiences was no easy feat, but Rodriguez went on to admit that it’s one of his favorite parts of the job.
“We walk them through the movie, make them feel what the movie is, know what the story is, really know that this character is gonna be the thing people latch onto, before they commit the money. Because it’s a huge commitment now, between marketing, and releasing. It’s just incredible how much they have to spend, and they have to spend wisely. It’s not like the old days at all. I really love pitching. When you do the full presentation, with the art, that’s a whole thing. With Alita, they owned Alita, so you can’t just go across the street and sell it to somebody else.”
After all that effort, it would be a shame if Alita: Battle Angel ended up as a one-and-done effort. However, as the recent campaign for a Solo sequel has shown, things would be a lot easier if the fans had just turned up and bought a ticket at their local theater in the first place instead of trying to will a sequel to a movie that hardly made any money into existence just because they want one.