Christoph Waltz still wants to make Alita: Battle Angel 2, but suspects it may not happen today that Disney owns the property. Because of the purchase of Fox (that was finalized last year), the Mouse House has gained control over profitable sci-fi franchises such as Alien, Predator, and world of the Apes, in addition to James Cameron’s mega-tentpole Avatar. In addition, they hold the rights to some other sci-fi project by the Terminator filmmaker in the form of Alita: Battle Angel, a live-action version of this cyberpunk manga/anime that Cameron developed for many years before handing it off to Robert Rodriguez to guide instead.
Released in February 2019 (about a month before Disney officially obtained Fox), Alita: Battle Angel celebrities Rosa Salazar as the titular hero, a cyborg who awakens from the 26th century with no memory of her previous but is aided by the kindly scientist Dr. Dyson Ido (Waltz). Using the old rule of thumb that a film should double its funding to create a profit, Alita was a small hit but a triumph nonetheless, taking in $405 million at the box office to a $170 million budget. Regardless of that, a sequel has not yet been declared and Waltz suspects it has to do with the franchise new owners than anything else.
Discussing with Collider to promote his new Quibi project, Most Dangerous Game, the Oscar-winner assured he had “Of course!” Reunite for Alita: Battle Angel 2, saying “I understand that people enjoyed it aside from what others said, I loved it and I enjoyed working on it and I enjoyed the outcome.” He admitted he has not heard anything about a film happening and theorized it’s to do with Disney buying Fox, prior to including “Perhaps it does not fit into the Disneyfication, but I have no clue. I don’t have any clue.”
It stands to reason Waltz is about Disney being the largest roadblock to Alita 2 at the moment. Following their acquisition, the studio declared a variety of developing Fox films (for example their big-budget Mouse Guard adaptation) and continues to be hesitant to green-light anything new that is not part of an extremely-profitable new like Avatar. Alita, as stated, is right on the cusp; the original film performed well enough, but nowhere near the box office amounts Disney earns from its live-action remakes or IPs like the MCU and Star Wars, so the studio has only so much incentive to come up with a followup. At precisely the exact same time, the film brought in decent reviews, together with critics praising its gorgeous visuals and the way it combines Cameron’s sci-fi interests with Rodriguez’s themes about class. Moviegoers were likewise receptive and were calling for a payoff to Alita’s sequel tease ever since.
Case in point: back in February, fans obtained #AlitaSequel trending on Twitter in an effort to encourage Disney to green-light the project. A number of them went a step farther and even paid to fly a banner promoting Alita: Battle Angel 2 within the 2020 Oscars ceremony a few days later. On top of all that, Salazar (such as Waltz) is on the record stating she’d like to go back for the screenplay, and producer Jon Landau has lent his support for these fan campaigns by reassuring them to keep pestering Disney with requests to make it happen. Suffice it to say, there is an audience that wants more Alita; whether it’s big enough to have the Mouse House’s attention, that is another matter.