James Cameron's 'Battle Angel' movie was delayed for 16 years -- and now it's finally happening

James CameronPhoto by Kevin Winter/Getty ImagesDirector James Cameron at an ‘Aliens: 30th Anniversary’ panel at Comic-Con International 2016 at San Diego Convention Center on July 23, 2016.

Sometime after directing 1997’s “Titanic,” James Cameron read “Battle Angel Alita,” a Japanese manga series by Yukito Kishiro about a cyborg who lost its memory and tries to reconstruct its past in a post-apocalyptic world.

By 2000, Cameron told 20th Century Fox — the studio that made “Titanic” — that he wanted to make the movie. And in 2003, he was writing the script and was signed on to direct the movie.

It’s 2016, and Cameron’s “Battle Angel” movie still doesn’t exist. Cameron was busy making “Avatar,” which came out in 2009 and became the highest-grossing movie of all time, topping “Titanic.” Instead of moving on to “Battle Angel,” he’s working on four more “Avatar” movies. It looked as if “Battle Angel” would never happen.

Battle angel alitaShueishaThe cover of Battle Angel Alita volume 1.

Now, the stars are aligned. In October 2015, 20th Century Fox hired Robert Rodriguez to direct what’s now titled “Alita: Battle Angel.” He’s working from Cameron’s script, and Cameron is producing the movie. Unlike Cameron, Rodriguez is known for being a director who reliably makes movies in time and under budget. He’s directed “Spy Kids,” “Machete,” and “The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D.”

Naming a director wasn’t just a move to pacify Cameron fans. Fox is sincerely committed to making the movie a reality. According to Variety, it’s scheduled for a July 20, 2018 release date, and has a budget between $175 million and $200 million, by far the highest Rodriguez has ever worked with. And now Fox is courting actors for a franchise, including “Maze Runner” actress Rose Salazar and Christoph Waltz. After nearly two decades of teasing, it looks like we’ll finally get that “Battle Angel” movie.

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