Alita: Battle Angel brought one of manga’s most beloved heroines to live action, but some requirements must be met before fans will get to see her return for Alita 2. Hitting cinema screens in February 2019, Alita: Battle Angel was the passion project of James Cameron, who produced and co-wrote the screenplay with Robert Rodriguez directing. Based on the manga created by Yukito Kishiro, Cameron has explained that he envisioned Alita continuing further in the form of Alita: Fallen Angel and Alita: Avenging Angel in an interview with BBC Radio 1, though Cameron acknowledged up front “That’s assuming we make some money.”
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Just shy of two years since the film’s theatrical debut, it’s now fair to call Alita a cult movie. Rodriguez has expressed an interest for Alita’s story to continue on Disney+, Alita actress Rosa Salazar has also shown enthusiasm for reprising the role, so it’s clear that the parties who made the movie are as interested in a sequel as Alita’s growing fanbase is. The question is, does 20th Century Fox’s new parent company Disney feel the same?
Looking at the situation overall, the prospect of Alita facing Nova in Zalem (which was teased at the end of the first movie) depends on various factors. For Alita 2 to move forward, numerous requirements will have to be met in order for the greenlight to be given – not impossible by any means, but necessary if the Alita Army, as her fanbase is now known, are to get their wish for a sequel granted. Here’s what’s blocking the next Alita from happening, and what needs to happen in order for it to proceed.
Alita Made An Impact In Her First Movie
Since Alita: Battle Angel completed its theatrical run, the future of the series has been something of a coin toss. With a budget in excess of $150 million, Alita’s first adventure didn’t come cheap, and in the lead up to its release, many suspected that it was a bomb waiting to happen. Alita ended up defying expectations with a final worldwide tally of $405 million, a robust haul for most movies. Add in the fact that the film was based on an IP that was far from mainstream at the time, and Alita: Battle Angel’s box office performance is nothing to sneeze at.
Also in Alita’s favor is the working relationship Disney now has with James Cameron through the Avatar sequels and Robert Rodriguez through The Mandalorian and the upcoming The Book of Boba Fett. Additionally, the character Alita has also amassed quite the passionate fanbase since her first movie, who have heavily pushed for her story to continue with social media hashtags and events like billboards and flying banners. That naturally brings to mind the activities of the Justice League Snyder Cut movement, which frankly faced a far greater uphill battle in achieving its goal. The Alita Army even succeeded in getting a theatrical re-release greenlit in the fall of 2020, which both Cameron and Rodriguez supported on social media. At this point, it’s safe to say that Alita’s first movie and Alita herself are growing in popularity, but it’s also important to remember that in itself is not enough to guarantee a sequel.
What’s Holding Alita 2 Back?
A big factor in Disney’s trepidation regarding Alita 2 lies in balancing the first film’s budget against its box office numbers. As stated above, though Alita came with a high price tag, it performed well enough to at least inspire consideration for Alita 2 — but the other thing holding it back is the Disney brand. With 20th Century Fox now under the Disney umbrella, they’d be the ones to approve whether or not the Alita franchise lives on, and with the first movie being the kind of PG-13 that just barely missed an R rating, the most family friendly studio in the business could decide to pass. Dyson Ido actor Christoph Waltz himself has even expressed the sentiment that a property like Alita won’t work at Disney.
Another aspect to consider is how much the brand awareness of Alita has grown since the first film. Alita exceeded box office expectations in her big screen debut, but Disney might also be wondering if she can pull that off a second time, especially considering the budget required for such an effects-heavy production. To be sure, the activities of the Alita Army have done a lot to keep her name in the public consciousness, but Disney will most assuredly want to be convinced that Alita 2 is a reliable investment.
What Needs To Happen For Alita 2 To Happen
Disney obviously has to give the greenlight for Alita 2 to enter production, but unfortunately that is not the only barrier the sequel faces. The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the film industry, resulting in production delays and significant release date shifts. A key component of getting Alita 2 rolling is Disney figuring out where the movie would fit into their larger slate. The theatrical element in particular has been hit hard by the pandemic, and especially for something at the budget level that Alita was at, calibrating how much of a role theaters should play in its release is essential to moving ahead.
Disney might decide that further Alita adventures would work better on streaming, especially in light of The Mandalorian’s popularity. The studio could also take a page out of Warner Bros. and HBO Max’s playbook and decide on a hybrid theatrical-streaming release. Furthermore, Disney also needs to decide just how far they want to take Alita right now. As stated earlier, Cameron had already discussed where he envisions Alita going with Fallen Angel and Avenging Angel, and Disney will need to determine how much they wish to take the plunge. Theoretically, the two could be made back to back if Disney were really feeling confident, but it seems more likely that the studio would hedge its bet on Fallen Angel alone and await the results. With production and release dates so heavily impacted by the pandemic, that also presents another maze in just getting the project started, and would likely make the aforementioned streaming element that much more appealing to Disney.
It goes without saying that getting the next Alita underway requires a lot of I’s to be dotted and T’s to be crossed, with a few more thrown into the mix as a result of the pandemic. The fact that 20th Century Fox is now part of Disney also brings with it further challenges that would not have been present under Fox alone. Still, the growing popularity of Alita since her first movie, the tireless push being made by the Alita Army, and the enthusiasm of Cameron, Rodriguez, and Salazar for continuing is keeping hope alive that Alita: Battle Angel could just be the beginning for the beloved cybernetic heroine.
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