An Alita: Battle Angel Sequel Is Still Possible, Says Director Robert Rodriguez

Live-action adaptations of anime and manga properties continue to present a challenge for the U.S. film and TV industry, as shown most recently by Netflix's abrupt cancellation of its live-action "Cowboy Bebop" series after a single season. Director Robert Rodriguez's "Alita: Battle Angel" stands as the rare exception to that rule, having become a modest critical and box office hit upon its release in 2019. Two years later, however, a sequel has yet to come to fruition, in spite of Rodriguez's ongoing efforts to will the movie into existence.

Based on the cyberpunk multimedia IP "Battle Angel Alita" created by Yukito Kishiro, "Alita: Battle Angel" was developed by James Cameron for years before he handed the reins off to Rodriguez to better focus on realizing his ambitious vision for the "Avatar" sequels. Rodriguez is now making the press rounds to promote "The Book of Boba Fett," a spin-off of "The Mandalorian" that Rodriguez is executive producing and co-directing after he helped re-introduce the eponymous bounty hunter by helming the action-packed (and, for my money, pretty enjoyable) "Mandalorian" season 2 episode "The Tragedy."

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter about his latest journey to a galaxy far, far away, Rodriguez offered an update on "Alita: Battle Angel 2" and what, if anything, is going on with the project:

"Jim [Cameron] and I talked about it recently, and we're still very interested. I told him, 'Let me deliver Boba and then let's figure out a pitch.'"

Why Alita 2 Hasn't Happened Yet

"Alita: Battle Angel," as mentioned earlier, was a modest hit that received polite applause from critics (it's fine! Honest!) and grossed $405 million at the global box office against a budget in the range of $150-200 million. That's enough to, in theory, make it profitable but not enough to get an automatic green-light for the sequel. Compounding matters, "Alita" was the last movie 21st Century Fox released before Disney finalized its acquisition of Fox's media assets in March 2019. Purely from a business perspective, the Mouse House has only so many reasons to make another costly "Alita" film when it could instead spend that money on a safer bet like a "Star Wars" spinoff.

From an artistic point of view, though, "Alita: Battle Angel 2" has potential. The first movie blended the transhumanist elements of Cameron's sci-fi movies with themes about class and inequality, both of which have long been major points of interest for Rodriguez as a storyteller and would likely factor just as heavily in the sequel. And given how the first "Alita" ended, the followup should also be able to avoid going overboard on the cool but repetitive Motorball sequences that dragged its predecessor down after a certain point.

"The Book of Boba Fett" premieres December 29, 2021 on Disney+. Expect Rodriguez to keep talking about "Alita: Battle Angel 2" so long as reporters keep asking him.