This marks the first professional collaboration between James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez. Due to his prior commitments to direct the four sequels to Avatar (2009), Cameron could only serve as the producer and co-screenwriter on this film, with Rodriguez taking the directorial duties. In an interview with Empire magazine on December 8, 2017, Rodriguez said of the collaboration with Cameron, "This just doesn't happen. Guys like Quentin Tarantino and Jim only write scripts for themselves to direct. When Avatar becomes the biggest movie of all time, he told me that he's going to spend the rest of his career making Avatars, so I said, 'What happens to Battle Angel then?', because as a fan I was just interested! And he said, 'I don't think I'll ever get to do that. Hey, if you can figure out the script, you can shoot it!' So I took it home, spent all summer working on it, cut it down to 130, 125 pages, without cutting anything that he missed. It was a great gift. We had a blast; anytime I had a question I could just call him or email him and he would send back these hugely detailed answers that were so helpful. He just loves being the producer that he always wants. The guy's just so freakin' smart. Getting to learn from someone like that was the greatest internship ever."
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The manga series is titled "Battle Angel Alita." In 2010, producer Jon Landau commented, "I'm telling people that we have to call it 'Alita: Battle Angel,' because Jim only does T&A movies." Most of James Cameron's movie titles begin with the letter "A" or "T," Aliens (1986), The Terminator (1984), The Abyss (1989), Avatar (2009), True Lies (1994), and Titanic (1997).
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Even though the film is live-action, the main character is done with CG animation and was shot in 3-D, using the stereo imaging system that James Cameron had been developing for his documentaries.
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Director Robert Rodriguez based the second Motorball sequence in NASCAR. Instead of aerial and impossible shots, he used the physics of real cameras in placements seen in NASCAR. It includes long lenses capturing things whizzing by, as well as cameras on the track with the players to keep it as real world as possible. It was the longest sequence in the film that he worked on, about three years from start to finish.
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The hunter warriors congregate in a bar called Kansas. According to Volume 8 of the Manga, the scrapyard (Iron City) is located in the land formerly known as Kansas City, Missouri.
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The film is based on the nine-volume Japanese manga "Gunnm," released in North America as "Battle Angel Alita." Written and illustrated by Yukito Kishiro, the comic book ran from 1990 to 1995. It was followed by the 19-volume sequel "Battle Angel Alita: Last Order," which ran from 2000 to 2014, and later by "Gunnm: Mars Chronicle," which began in 2014.
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In September 2016, Variety reported that the movie has a budget between $175 million and $200 million which makes it the biggest budget that Robert Rodriguez has ever had.
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Upon the release of the film's first theatrical trailer, Alita's appearance, especially her big eyes, have provoked strong mixed reactions from audiences. Director Robert Rodriguez, in an interview with Empire magazine on December 8, 2017, explained the decision for the design of Alita's eyes: "It was always Jim [Cameron]'s intention to create a photo-realistic version of the manga eyes that we're so accustomed to seeing. We really wanted to honour that tradition and see that look standing next to any human character. To have the right person to emote behind it was really essential. Her origins are in the film and you understand why she looks that way. If the eyes are the windows to the soul, we have some pretty big windows. You can see a lot going on in there! When it gets to the emotional scenes it's really uncanny and striking. And captivating!"
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Some of the world's top-inline skaters performed as the Motorball competitors, among them Chris Haffey, Franky Morales and Dave Lang. 2003 X-Games competitor Katie Ketchum doubled for Rosa Salazar during these sequences, while Salazar was skating off the side capturing facial expressions for the reference cameras. Both Ketchum and Salazar's performances were combined in post-production.
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Quentin Tarantino recommended Christoph Waltz to director Robert Rodriguez. Tarantino directed Waltz to two Oscar wins in Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012), and he has been a long-time friend and collaborator of Rodriguez since the early 1990s.
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Announced in 2003, production on and release of the film were repeatedly delayed due to James Cameron's work on Avatar (2009) and its sequels. After years of languishing in development hell, Robert Rodriguez was announced as the film's director in April 2016, with Rosa Salazar being cast the following month. Principal photography began in Austin, Texas, in October 2016, lasting through February 2017.
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When Hugo and his friends show Alita the downed ship outside the city, they are actually walking through McKinney Falls State Park in Austin, Texas (5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy, Austin, TX 78744)
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James Cameron had wanted to direct and produce a feature film adaptation of Yukito Kishiro's "Battle Angel Alita" manga since 1995, but the project stalled for two reasons: (1) prior commitment and his own interest to direct Titanic (1997); and (2) the technology, at the time, had not caught up with the story and vision he needed to present and to do justice to Kishiro's world of Alita.
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Four actresses screen tested for the title role: Zendaya, Rosa Salazar, Maika Monroe, and Bella Thorne.
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The movie opening scene is similar to the opening sequence of Battle Angel (1993), many scenes in this movie are taken almost frame by frame from scenes from Battle Angel (1993).
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This is the first film Robert Rodriguez has directed since Spy Kids (2001) in which he was also the film editor, director of photography, camera operator, steadicam operator, composer, production designer, visual effects supervisor, and sound editor.
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"Alita" translates to "little wing" in Spanish.
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According to the home-release extras, there was more CGI geometry in just one of Alita's eyes than for the entire character of Gollum in 'Lord of the Rings.'
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The film includes roughly 1,500 visual effects shots.
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This is Robert Rodriguez's first PG-13 movie, despite 18 feature film directing credits spanning 27 years. All of his previous films were either R or PG.
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Alita: Battle Angel has also led to a fruitful collaboration between James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez teams, including Lightstorm, the Los Angeles-based company, and its own production facility in Texas (Troublemaker Studios). Many of Lightstorm's special effects designers then paused in their work on the Avatar sequels to focus on Alita.
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Avan Jogia, Douglas Booth, Jack Lowden and Noah Silver were considered for the role of Hugo, but the filmmakers decided on Keean Johnson because they were looking for someone more "ethnically ambiguous."
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At 1:18;28 Vector states "I'd rather rule in hell than serve in heaven.". He is paraphrasing a line from 17th century poet John Milton's "Paradise Lost": "Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heav'n".
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The casting call for the female lead in this film was posted on the website of Mali Finn Casting in early December 2005 by mistake. In fact, that call was meant for Avatar (2009).
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Composer Junkie XL has done several significant post-apocalyptic / dystopian film scores for Divergent (2014), Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), The Dark Tower (2017), and Mortal Engines (2018).
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This was Robert Rodriguez' third film to be shot in native 3D after Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003) and The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl 3-D (2005), and cinematographer Bill Pope's second film to be shot in native 3D after The Jungle Book (2016).
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The movie features two actors who won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor twice within three years: Christoph Waltz for Inglourious Basterds (2009) and Django Unchained (2012), and Mahershala Ali for Moonlight (2016) and Green Book (2018).
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This was the first film directed by Robert Rodriguez to be shot primarily in widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Although Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003) and Grindhouse (2007) (segment Planet Terror) were released in theaters at said ratio, the DVD/Blu-ray versions are presented in his preferred 1.85:1 ratio. This film was also specially formatted in IMAX 1.89:1/1.90:1 for over forty minutes, which closely matches the 1.85:1 ratio.
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When James Cameron and his producer, Jon Landau met Robert Rodriguez, they started by showing him some impressive videos and storyboards that testify to the visual and scripting potential of Alita: Battle Angel (2019). Rodriguez was immediately interested and asked if he could reduce the size of the basic script.
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The final film distributed by 20th Century Fox as a stand-alone studio due to The Walt Disney Company acquired 21st Century Fox on March 20, 2019.
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The motorball game in this film is almost identical to the titular game of Rollerball (1975).
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This movie stars two Bond villains - Rick Yune of Die Another Day (2002), and Christoph Waltz of Spectre (2015) and No Time to Die (2021).
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Christoph Waltz was the male lead in Big Eyes (2014), about a woman who paints popular pictures of people with big eyes. In Alita, he is a surrogate father of someone with big eyes.
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The Blu-ray extras include a grammatical error in the Alita's World/Iron City section. Most areas of Iron City are labeled in Spanish. "CORAZON D'ACERO (Heart of steel)" should be "CORAZON DE ACERO". The Spanish word "de (of)" never contracts to "d' " before a vowel. Though, this could be attributed to being set in the far future and in a place where many cultures have intermingled for centuries.
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Jorge Lendeborg Jr. plays Tanji, who is a friend to Hugo, who has a romantic connection with Alita, a cyborg. In Bumblebee (2018) Jorge plays Memo, who has a romantic connection with Charlie, who is a friend to Bumblebee, a human-like robot.
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Ed Skrein and Keean Johnson will play in the World War II movie Midway.
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Jai Courtney: Jasmughan, the Iron City Motorball champion.
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James Cameron confirmed in an interview that this is a combination of the first four books in Yukito Kishiro's series of manga books ("Motorball" from books 3 and 4, and the story from books 1 and 2). In another interview, Cameron also said that should this film be successful, he hopes to make another two "Battle Angel" films.
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Edward Norton has an uncredited cameo as Alita's secretive main antagonist Desty Nova, and Michelle Rodriguez is uncredited as Gelda, Alita's fellow warrior in the flashbacks to her elusive past.
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The fighting technique of Alita is referred to as "Panzer Kunst". The German word "Panzer" translates to "tank", "tanks" or "armour" and "Kunst" to "art". So "Panzer Kunst" literally translates to "art of tanks" or "art of the armoured".
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James Cameron said in 2005 that the film would be rated PG-13 and that the blood would be blue, not red. In some scenes, you see blue and red cardiovascular hookups, as well as blue blood in some cyborg injuries.
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The film stars three Academy Award winners (Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, and Christoph Waltz) and two nominees (Jackie Earle Haley, Edward Norton). They were all recognized in the supporting acting categories.
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Originally, "Gunnm" is a manga written and illustrated by Yukito Kishiro. "Gunnm" has nine volumes of about 220 pages each. These were published for the first time between 1990 and 1995 in the Business Jump magazine. The first French version was released between 1995 and 1998 by Glénat. The particularity of this manga, related to the cyberpunk genre, lies in its extreme violence and its very dark vision of humanity, which does not prevent some characters from having very deep feelings, contrasting radically with their environment. "Gunnm" takes place in a post-apocalyptic world in the twenty-sixth century, which is divided into two main parts: on the one side; the dump, a filthy and ultra-violent city populated mainly by cyborgs; beggars, criminals, bounty hunters, etc. And on the other side; Zalem, a city floating several thousand meters above the dump whose inhabitants are humans living in an idyllic environment. These are two places in perfect opposition and separated by impassable boundaries. The majority of the manga's action takes place in the landfill. In this world ruled by the strongest, a scientist, Dr. Dyson, discovers the carcass of a young abandoned cyborg. After having repaired it, and thus bringing it back to life, he calls it Alita ("Gally" in the manga). Having no memory of her past but showing impressive combat skills, she will try to unravel the mystery of her origins and better apprehend the world in which she now lives. This is to protect those she loves from terrifying enemies who relentlessly pursue them.
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