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Robert Rodriguez will direct James Cameron’s Battle Angel: Alita movie

It’s been over a decade in the making, but James Cameron’s long-delayed adaptation of the sci-fi manga Battle Angel Alita finally seems to be moving forward. The Avatar filmmaker announced this week that he’ll vacate the director’s chair and turn it over to From Dusk ‘Til Dawn and Sin City director Robert Rodriguez.

20th Century Fox and Cameron issued an official statement announcing the project with Rodriguez, and further indicating that Cameron and his frequent producing partner Jon Landau — who co-produced both Avatar and Titanic with Cameron — will also produce the feature, which will likely be titled Alita: Battle Angel.

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“Robert and I have been looking for a film to do together for years,” said Cameron in the statement announcing the deal. “So I was pumped when he said he wanted to do Battle Angel. He’s very collaborative and we’re already like two kids building a go-kart, just having fun riffing creatively and technically. This project is near and dear to me, and there’s nobody I trust more than Robert, with his technical virtuosity and rebel style, to take over the directing reins. We’re looking forward to learning a lot from each other while we make a kick-ass epic.”

First published in 1990 and encompassing nine volumes of stories penned by Yukito Kishiro, Battle Angel: Alita is set in a post-apocalyptic future and follows an android with a mysterious past that is found in a scrap heap by a cybernetics expert and revived. The robot — named “Alita” by the scientist — finds itself with few memories of its past, but discovers it has a proficiency in a powerful form of martial arts developed for cyborgs. Alita becomes a bounty hunter and attempts to uncover the secrets of her past while pursuing criminals.

First announced as a potential adaptation project for Cameron more than ten years ago, Alita has been repeatedly sidelined over the last decade due to the success of Cameron’s other projects — particularly Avatar. With the filmmaker now engaged in developing two sequels to Avatar, the decision to hand over the reins to Rodriguez makes sense, and the Sin City director will now work from a script co-written by Cameron and Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter IslandNight Watch).

“Battle Angel is an incredibly rich and vibrant epic in the tradition of Jim Cameron’s spectacular, character-driven films,” said Rodriguez in his own statement regarding the project. “Getting to work from Jim’s terrific and visionary script while learning the cutting-edge techniques he’s pioneered is a master class in filmmaking. It’s an honor to explore the world of Alita along with Jim and Jon, whose films have impacted me for decades.”

There’s currently no timetable for Alita: Battle Angel to begin production.