‘Alita: Battle Angel’ Producer Jon Landau on the Film’s Long Road to the Big Screen [Interview]

/Film | 2/14/2019 | Jack Giroux
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Alita: Battle Angel has been a long time coming. Based on Yukito Kishiro‘s manga series Battle Angel Alita, the big and intimate Robert Rodriguez film was once going to be directed by producer James Cameron, who ended up choosing Avatar over the property. Cameron ultimately handed directorial duties over to Rodriguez, who helped whip Cameron’s epic script into a manageable length.

Even with a different director at the helm, producer Jon Landau wanted to make a James Cameron-style event film, describing the movie as “a movie with themes bigger than its genre” and “has a central relatable character, who on many levels, is an ordinary character who ends up doing extraordinary things against this epic backdrop.” Alita: Battle Angel, which the site’s own Hoai-Tran Bui rightfully praised as Hollywood’s first good manga adaptation, certainly checks those boxes.

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We spoke to Landau recently and he told us a bit more about the project’s history, working with Cameron, deleted scenes, and Avatar 2.

When was your first conversation with James Cameron about Alita; Battle Angel?

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This goes back all the way to 1999 or 2000 when Guillermo del Toro introduced us to “Alita: Battle Angel.” Jim saw it as a movie he wanted to direct, and he told me why he wanted to direct it for his eight-year-old daughter. He saw it as a movie that was about the empowerment of young women, women who don’t have to think of themselves as insignificant, and that they can make a difference in the world. Not just for women, but for young people everywhere, it’s the idea that inside of everybody, there’s the ability to be a hero.

Can you imagine making the movie in the early 2000s?


I don’t think it would’ve been right in 1999, but in 2005, we sort of looked at the landscape of what...
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