Alita: Battle Angel opens in theaters on St. Valentine’s Day, which is fitting — the $200 million film represents a long romance between producer James Cameron and the source material, the cyberpunk saga created by Yukito Kishiro in the 1990s. Cameron flirted with making it into a movie in the mid-2000s (and even wrote a 180-page script for the adaptation) but then set it aside in favor of making a different sci-fi epic: Avatar, the 2009 alien adventure that stands as the highest-grossing film in history.
In 2015, director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids) inquired about the status of Alita and ended up with Cameron’s script in hand and a new job on tap. With Rodriguez directing and Cameron producing (along with his longtime partner, Jon Landau), filming finally got underway in 2016. Also on board: Weta, the famed special-effects house in New Zealand, which was tasked with the film’s offbeat challenge of achieving a photo-realistic anime interpretation of Alita’s title character and the story’s futuristic setting.
A new trailer for the film shows the dream-like quality of the finished product. The 20th Century Fox film stars Rosa Salazar as Alita, a cyborg who awakens in Iron City, a world she does not recognize with no memory of her past. The cast also includes Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Keean Johnson.