The cyberpunk film, Alita: Battle Angel, was released in February of 2019, about a month before its rights were officially acquired by Disney. Based on a popular 90’s manga and anime, the feature focused on the eponymous cyborg who awakes with no memories of her origin and subsequently goes on a journey of self-discovery to unlock the warrior in her. Initially, a passion project of Avatar filmmaker, James Cameron, the directorial reins were passed on to Robert Rodriguez with Cameron latching on as a producer. The film was a modest hit, raking in $404 million (USD) on a $170 million (USD) budget. However, a sequel is yet to be greenlit, and actor Christoph Waltz thinks it may be due to the franchise’s new landlords.
In an interview with Collider to promote his new Quibi project, the 63-year-old, who played Dr. Dyson Ido in Alita, delved into what he thought of the film’s passionate fanbase and whether he would be willing to return to the franchise. Here is what he said:
Of course! Of course I would! But, you know, I’m as wise as you are. 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. 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.
Waltz then gave his opinion on why a follow-up to Alita has not yet been announced despite its popularity, attributing that to the change in ownership for the franchise.
“You know, it was Fox and Fox doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s Disney. 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.”, Waltz explained.
Now, I am one of those individuals who really enjoyed Alita: Battle Angel despite recognising that it had major narrative issues. I mean, altogether, it was a cool concept that had so much more potential to be developed within its neon cyberpunk landscape. Besides, the movie resolved with a greater threat looming over Iron City in Edward Norton’s Nova, as the cyborg raised her blade to Zalem, promising a showdown in the future.
While Waltz’s comments cannot be taken as confirmation that the series is dead, Disney had indeed shut down several Fox projects in development following the great acquisition. Unlike James Cameron’s Avatar, Alita’s success was not particularly huge and that might not have been enough to convince studio executives to risk summoning a follow-up if it wasn’t going to spell success. Furthermore, does Alita’s darker tone fit into the vision of the studio? Disney has been known to produce family-friendly media. Robert Rodriguez’s film just isn’t that, toeing the line at being an R-rated film at times, the gnarly nastiness being forgiven because the action is executed on non-human entities.
However, there certainly is an audience for Alita and they have gone to great lengths to profess their love for it. Moreover, the cast have expressed their interest at reprising their roles. If general interest in the film continues to be displayed publicly, would the studio be willing to invest in a sequel? I sure hope so, or this would have been the Battle Angel’s swan song.