Alita: Battle Angel 2 has had huge fan support and although a sequel is no closer to happening, Robert Rodriguez hasn't forgotten about the fans.
"You tell a story, ultimately, so people can enjoy it. And I hope they do. If they are affected by it enough that they would take the time to go and start a campaign, that's like next level," he told Discussing Film.
"It's so impressive and heartwarming because you went and did that really because you also loved the material the same way and you felt it was worth the number of years you're going to put in to make it.
"It wasn't the perfect time to come out with it, but that the fans still didn't let anyone forget that they loved that movie. It's almost better than having a movie that does really well but no one remembers in six to eight years."
Since the release of Alita: Battle Angel, Disney completed its acquisition of Fox and it'll be Disney that decides whether the movie gets a sequel and if it can find space on its packed release slate for it.
"Maybe it doesn't fit into the Disneyfication, but I have no clue. I have no clue. Maybe they're working on something and I wouldn't be the first person to hear, but meanwhile, I haven't heard anything," said Christoph Waltz in April 2020.
This followed on from lead star Rosa Salazar's comments in July 2019 that she hadn't heard anything about a sequel, but Rodriguez hasn't given up hope and said in December 2020 that "anything is possible".
"I know other people would love to see another, and I would love to do another one. As far as where it would go or how it would be made, I think streaming has opened up many opportunities such as sequels," he told Forbes.
"It's already a pre-sold concept, it's already got a built-in audience that wants to see it, and then it's delivered to them in a way that's the easiest for them to consume."
Rodriguez and James Cameron clearly had plans for a sequel and the first movie sets up one. Digital Spy spoke to the pair at the time of the theatrical release about what a potential future movie could bring, and here's what we can expect...
Alita Battle Angel 2 plot: How is Alita Battle Angel 2 set up?
The movie is clearly intended to be a complete story, if not one that answers all our questions.
Alita loses her lover, Hugo, but has come to understand herself and her own place in the world better, rising to become Motorball champion and get her shot at returning to the mysterious city, Zalem, and its leader Nova.
In fact, there is an entire scene about Motorball that didn't make it into the final cut. producer Jon Landau told CinemaBlend: "There was a training sequence that we shot in an alley Hugo is teaching her how to do the street Motorball. That's really the only significant scene."
Deleted scenes aside, it's clear that Rodriguez and Cameron intended the movie to be a complete arc in itself. "She now knows who she is, and she's got a target, and it's still a complete story with a beginning, middle and end," said Rodriguez.
But with mysteries continuing to surround Alita's centuries-long life, Cameron pointed out that those haven't even been completely explained in Yukito Kishiro's original manga.
"Well, we obviously have a plan for that," he told us. "But it's cheeky to set up a sequel before you're proven. That can blow back in your face. We think of something like Warcraft that was clearly set up with the intention to do sequels, and then it becomes mock-able because the film doesn't succeed.
"But I don't worry about stuff like that. If the film fails, it's its own punishment, you know? It doesn't matter if we get mocked on top of having failed."
So, the obvious questions remain to be answered: What happened to Alita between 'The Fall' and her eventually landing in that Iron City junk heap? How did Zalem survive The Fall, and what is the city really like? And what does the enigmatic Nova really want?
There is definitely no shortage of plans for a follow-up. Rodriguez said that Cameron told him he wouldn't send "all the 1,000 pages of notes".
"I'll send you, like, 600," Rodriguez quoted, thinking that Cameron was joking before 600 pages of notes on the Alita script arrived in the post.
"There's like one whole document about the trilogy," said Rodriguez. "Because that's just part of his process. 'Here are three movies. Just so you know what to include in the first story and whatnot'."
Alita Battle Angel 2 cast: Who's coming back for Alita Battle Angel 2?
Well, Rosa Salazar would definitely be back as Alita, not just because she's the lead role, but because she loves it so much. "I would play Alita till my last breath," she said. "I would, and thanks to the performance capture technology, I probably could."
We'd expect Christoph Waltz to be back as Alita's surrogate father Dr Dyson Ido, who also happens to be a scientist and a bounty hunter, as he's confirmed he would return for a sequel.
"I haven't heard anything and I'm a little disappointed and surprised that I haven't heard a thing so far, because I know that it has followers," he explained in April 2020.
"I know that people liked it and aside from what others said, I loved it and I liked working on it and I liked the result."
Edward Norton should also reprise his role as the enigmatic Nova after being set up at the very end of the movie. Rodriguez admitted that Nova was tough to cast, as his presence is "really for the setup of a sequel".
Wanting to make sure the small, non-speaking role was filled with someone they would want to work with on the theoretical Alita: Battle Angel 2, they eventually cast Norton in the role.
Another character, Clive Lee, was in the original script but was cut. "I figured we should save him for a sequel," said the director, so we could see them in the sequel, but it's unclear who would play them.
Alita Battle Angel 2 trailer: Any Alita Battle Angel 2 footage yet?
It'll be a while yet, we're afraid. Let's focus on one thing at a time and hope that Disney greenlights the sequel first. According to Landau, there's one way to pressure the studio into making a sequel...
"What I think the Alita Army should do is keep peppering our family now at Disney and [let them know] how important it is to have another Alita movie and hopefully we'll venture there one day," he said.
Even if a sequel gets greenlit, it can still take a while for production to start though, Landau revealed:
"You've got to assume that's going to take you 12 to 18 months to write a script. Assuming that script is great, you then have a six to 10 month pre-production. You then have a six-month shoot. You then have a year of post-production and that's just any movie of this ilk."
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