Robert Rodriguez replaces James Cameron as director of Battle Angel Alita

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Having long maintained that it would be his next project after the completion of the Avatar sequels, James Cameron is now looking to Sin City director Robert Rodriguez to direct his planned adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s cult cyberpunk manga Gunnm, better known to English-speakers as Battle Angel Alita.

In a statement for the Hollywood Reporter, Cameron is quoted as saying:

“Robert and I have been looking for a film to do together for years, 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.”

Rodriguez adds:

Battle Angel is an incredibly rich and vibrant epic in the tradition of Jim Cameron’s spectacular, character-driven films. 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.”

Cameron and Jon Landau are set to produce the project, with a script by Shutter Island‘s Laeta Kalogridis.

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Set in the poverty-riddled netherworld existing beneath a prosperous floating city, the story follows Alita (Gally) a skilled cyborg martial-artist, whose disembodied head is discovered in a junk-heap, with no memory of who she was or how she ended up there. Taken in by a kindly doctor-turned-bounty-hunter, she tries to retrace her former life, whilst the two eke out a living by combating the local criminals.

Kishiro’s original manga ran in the Business Jump seinen manga magazine from 1990 to 1995, with intermittent sequels continuing to the present day. A two-part Battle Angel anime was also produced in 1993, although, despite going on to receive critical acclaim abroad, it met with only modest success in Japan, and Kishiro was said to disinterested in continuing that adaptation, preferring to focus on the manga instead.

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