Alita: Battle Angel

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Alita: Battle Angel
Alita Battle Angel final poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Rodriguez
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based onBattle Angel Alita
by Yukito Kishiro
Music byTom Holkenborg
CinematographyBill Pope[1]
Edited byStephen E. Rivkin
Distributed by20th Century Fox[2]
Release date
  • February 14, 2019 (2019-02-14)
CountryUnited States
Budget$150 million[3]

Alita: Battle Angel is an upcoming American cyberpunk action film based on Yukito Kishiro's manga Battle Angel Alita, which is known as Gunnm in Japan. Produced by James Cameron and Jon Landau, the film is directed by Robert Rodriguez from a screenplay by Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis. Production and release were repeatedly delayed due to Cameron's work on Avatar and its sequels. The film stars Rosa Salazar in the title role, with supporting roles portrayed by Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Keean Johnson. It is scheduled to be released on February 14, 2019 by 20th Century Fox in Real D 3D, Dolby Cinema and IMAX 3D.


Alita: Battle Angel follows the story of the titular Alita (Salazar), a disembodied "core" who awakens with no memory in a post-apocalyptic world destroyed by a technological fall. Dr. Ido (Waltz) finds her and gives her a new body.[4] They later discover that Alita is more than what she seems and has an extraordinary past. As she navigates her new life, she battles other machines who are empowered with skills.

James Cameron has stated that he intends to adapt "the spine story" of Yukito Kishiro's original manga, with a specific focus on the first four books.[5] He especially wants to include the fictional sport "Motorball" from the third and fourth volume.[6][7] In the narrative, the sport played an important role in the Alita story arc because it was part of her development as a character.[8]




The film is produced by James Cameron (left) and Jon Landau (right)

Yukito Kishiro's Battle Angel Alita manga was originally brought to James Cameron's attention by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, and Cameron immediately became enamored with the concept.[15]

The domain name "battleangelalita.com" was registered to James Cameron by 20th Century Fox around June 2000.[16] Fox also registered the "battleangelmovie.com" domain.[17] In April 2003, it was reported by Moviehole that Cameron had confirmed he would direct a Battle Angel film.[18] Cameron confirmed that a script for the film was in production during an interview on the Tokudane! program on Fuji TV on May 4, 2003.[19] It was originally scheduled to be his next production after the TV series Dark Angel,[20] which was influenced by Battle Angel Alita.[21] It was later scheduled to be his next film after Aliens of the Deep in January 2005.[22]

In June 2005, The Hollywood Reporter claimed that the film was being delayed while Cameron developed a film known as Project 880,[23] which would later be renamed Avatar.[24] Entertainment Weekly ran an interview in February 2006 in which Cameron stated that his deal with 20th Century Fox was that he produce both films.[25] The article also claimed that Battle Angel was slated to be released in September 2009.[25] In June 2006, Cameron commented that Battle Angel was the second of two planned film trilogies he was developing, with the first being Avatar.[26]

In May 2008, Cameron indicated he would be working on a film titled The Dive, a biography of freedivers Francisco Ferreras and Audrey Mestre,[27] thus delaying the film again. That July, at the San Diego Comic-Con International, he reiterated that he was still committed to making the film.[28] In December 2009, Cameron commented during an interview with MTV News that a script for Battle Angel had been completed.[29]

In February 2010, producer Jon Landau commented during an interview that he was trying to convince Cameron to change the film's title to Alita: Battle Angel, stating, "I'm telling people that we have to call it Alita: Battle Angel, because Jim only does T&A movies," he said.[a][15] Landau also revealed that screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis had worked on writing the film.[15]

In August 2010, Cameron stated that the film was "still on [his] radar", but he didn't know when he would make it.[24] However, that October, he confirmed that his next films would be two Avatar sequels instead of Battle Angel.[30] He still stated that he did not intend to abandon the film, stating that he loved the project too much to hand it off to another director,[5] but reiterated in June 2011 that it would not be produced until the two Avatar sequels were completed,[31] stating that "...Battle Angel is not going to happen for a few years."[32] According to Cameron, his reason for producing Avatar first is because he believes that the film can raise public awareness of the need for environmental protection.[33]

Robert Rodriguez, the director of the film.

During an interview with Alfonso Cuarón in July 2013, Cameron set 2017 as the date at which production on the film would begin.[34] In October 2015, The Hollywood Reporter reported that director Robert Rodriguez was in negotiations to direct the film, now titled Alita: Battle Angel, and Cameron would be attached as producer alongside Jon Landau.[35] Rodriguez had been brought in by Cameron to condense and combine Cameron's 186-page screenplay and some 600 pages of notes into what could be the shooting script. Satisfied by Rodriguez's work on the shooting script, Cameron offered him the directing job.[10]

In April 2016, The Hollywood Reporter reported that 20th Century Fox had not yet greenlit the film, as they were attempting to reduce the budget to something below $175–$200 million.[36] The article also announced that Rodriguez had been signed as director.[36] In late May 2016, Fox scheduled the film for a July 20, 2018 release date.[37]


While under James Cameron as potential director, the film was to be produced with the same mix of live-action and computer-generated imagery that Cameron used in Avatar.[29] Specifically, Cameron intended to render the main character, Alita, completely in CGI.[22] Cameron has stated that he would make use of technologies developed for Avatar to produce the film, such as the Fusion Camera System, facial performance capture, and the Simulcam.[38] In May 2006, Variety reported that Cameron had spent the past ten months developing technology to produce the film.[39]

In October 2008, Mark Goerner, a digital artist who had worked on the film for a year and a half, commented that pre-production work on the film was mostly finished.[40]


An April 2016 article in The Hollywood Reporter reported that Maika Monroe, Rosa Salazar and Zendaya were among the final actresses being considered to take the role of Alita in the film, with a decision due within a few weeks.[36] The article reported that Zendaya's former co-star Bella Thorne had also auditioned for the role.[36] Near the end of May 2016, Collider reported that Salazar had been chosen.[9]

In August 2016, it was reported that Christoph Waltz was in negotiations to play Dr. Dyson Ido,[41] the equivalent of Daisuke Ido from the original manga.[42] On September 14, 2016, it was announced that Jackie Earle Haley had been cast as a cyborg villain.[43] On September 21, 2016, Variety reported that Ed Skrein was in talks for a role in the film;[44] The Hollywood Reporter later confirmed that he had been cast as the antagonist Zapan.[45]

On September 30, 2016, Keean Johnson was reported to have been cast in the film to play Hugo, Alita's love interest, who later becomes the reason for her to play a gladiator-style game called Motorball.[46] The studio also considered Avan Jogia, Douglas Booth, Jack Lowden, and Noah Silver for the role, but decided on Johnson because they were looking for someone more "ethnically ambiguous".[46] On October 3, 2016, Mahershala Ali was reportedly in talks for the villainous role of Vector, a man who rigs Motorball combat matches.[13] In an interview following his Best Supporting Actor win at the 89th Academy Awards, Ali revealed that he would play two roles in the film, although he did not elaborate on the nature of the second role.[12]

On October 5, 2016, it was reported that Eiza González had joined the film.[47] González is one of the leads in Rodriguez' television series From Dusk till Dawn: The Series. Jorge Lendeborg Jr. was announced for a role in the film on October 7, 2016. He will play Hugo's friend.[48] Lana Condor was reported to have joined the cast on October 11, 2016, portraying the orphaned teen Koyomi.[49] On October 18, 2016, Leonard Wu was cast as the cyborg Kinuba.[50] Marko Zaror joined the cast as the cyborg Ajakutty in December 2016.[51] On February 7, 2017, Jennifer Connelly joined the film in an unknown villainous role.[52] Michelle Rodriguez was retroactively announced for a role on February 22, 2017, after the film had completed shooting.[53]


The film began shooting in Austin, Texas on October 17, 2016, and concluded on February 9, 2017.[43][54] In late January 2017, a casting call went out looking for rocker, punk, or emo extras to film scenes in Austin on the nights of February 3, 6, and 7, 2017.[55][56]


The film is scheduled to be released by 20th Century Fox on February 14, 2019,[57] and will be screened in IMAX theaters.[58] The film was originally set to be released on July 20, 2018,[37] but in February 2018, the film was delayed to December 21,[59] before later being pushed back again in late September to its current release date.


The first trailer for the film was released on December 8, 2017, with a July 2018 release in mind.[10] The footage received a mixed response, with a majority of the commentary focusing on the appearance of the titular character, Alita. Andrew Liptak of The Verge stated that "The character looks like an anime doll come to life, or like a Disney character that's just a hair off from normal. It's probably a deliberate choice, meant to remind viewers at every moment that Alita isn't human. But after so many years of CGI animators trying to mimic convincing human faces and not entirely succeeding, it's still unsettling to see a character hovering this close to realistic, while staying this far away from it."[60] Adam Chitwood of Collider was intrigued and cautiously optimistic, saying, "This thing looks bonkers, and now it's crystal clear why Cameron was considering directing this in the first place. The choice to make your protagonist a photo-real CG creation interacting with actual human characters is mighty ambitious, and I can say with certainty this doesn't look like anything Robert Rodriguez has done before. I don't know if it'll be good, but it definitely seems like it'll at least be interesting."[61]

A second trailer was shown at SDCC 2018 and made its way online on July 23, 2018, with a December 2018 release in mind. The trailer featured a cover of Linkin Park's "New Divide", covered by composer J2 featuring vocalist Avery.[62] The third trailer was released in November 2018, almost a year after the first trailer was launched.[63]


  1. ^ Landau was referring to the fact that most of Cameron's other films have had titles starting with either a T or an A, such as Titanic, Aliens, The Terminator, The Abyss, True Lies, and Avatar.


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