Disney should make a sequel to Alita: Battle Angel but as a TV series on Disney+. Based on the famous Japanese manga/anime, Alita: Battle Angel received a big-screen adaptation in 2019 courtesy of James Cameron. He spent years developing the title for 20th Century Fox with the hopes of directing the film and launch a new franchise, but once he got too busy with four Avatar sequels, he handed the reins over to Robert Rodriguez.
The film was Fox's final release before the studio's acquisition by Disney became official. With Rose Salazar starring as Alita, the movie received a mixed-to-positive reception by critics. But, Alita: Battle Angel did resonate with plenty of moviegoers who want to see the story continue. These fans have launched some internet campaigns to show Disney how much interest there is in Alita: Battle Angel 2, which led to The Alita Army paying for a banner to fly over the Oscars to bring more attention to their cause. However, co-star Christoph Waltz doesn't know if a sequel is part of Disney's plans.
The interest in Alita: Battle Angel 2 is understandable based on the way the first film planted the seeds for a bigger story in Alita's next adventure. It doesn't appear that Alita will get the chance to star in another movie, but that doesn't mean her story has to end now. Thanks to the launch of Disney+, the Mouse House has the perfect place to continue Alita: Battle Angel as a TV series, which might be a better format for the property anyway.
If it is decided that Alita: Battle Angel 2 won't be made as a theatrical reason, it won't be that surprising. The first film had a substantial budget in order to believably bring the 26th century Earth (including Iron City and Zalem) to the screen, as well as a completely CGI lead character (and many supporting characters with CGI body parts). The budget was reportedly $170 million, which puts the film's worldwide box office tally just at the tipping point of being profitable. Usual box office math suggests a movie needs to double its budget to break even, so Alita: Battle Angel's $404.9 million total does eclipse the $340 million needed. But, that performance still isn't that big when compared to Disney's other franchises.
Now that Disney is in charge of the Alita: Battle Angel franchise, the film's moderate box office performance might not be the only factor in the studio potentially deciding to not make a sequel. The sci-fi/action movie doesn't completely line up with the family-friendly approach Disney is known for; Alita: Battle Angel even made use of the PG-13's rating to use one f-word. Since Disney took over Fox, they've instead prioritized keeping properties around that better suit the Disney brand. They're planning new Planet of the Apes movies with Wes Ball, reboots of Home Alone, Night at the Museum, and more are heading to Disney+, and Marvel Studios will eventually launch new versions of the X-Men and Fantastic Four. So far, there's no word on how Disney plans to handle Fox's more mature IP like Alien and Predator, much less how a property like Alita could be kept on the big screen.
The good news for Alita: Battle Angel is that Disney+ could be the best landing spot for a sequel story. This potential franchise is based on the cyberpunk manga created by Yukito Kishiro that originally began publishing in 1990 and ended in 1995 and spanned nine volumes. For the purposes of the first film, Cameron and Rodriguez adapted Alita's first two volumes but took some liberties in adding other elements to set up the future. This decision resulted in Alita: Battle Angel having to tell a lot of story in just over 2 hours. As a result, certain developments, character deaths, and sequel setup happened too quickly.
Prior to filming even beginning on Alita: Battle Angel, Cameron had plotted out an entire trilogy of films that would adapt Alita's complete story according to Rodriguez. However, this brisk pace would inevitably lead Alita: Battle Angel 2 and subsequent sequels to suffer the same storytelling troubles as the original. There is simply too much story too tell and not enough time in the traditional 2 hour blockbuster format. This is why a Disney+ TV series could be an ideal place for the Alita franchise to continue.
The benefits of long-form storytelling can be seen across the TV landscape at this time, but also specifically on Disney+ with The Mandalorian. The first season consisted of eight 30-minute episodes, allowing Jon Favreau to tell a story in four hours that otherwise would've seen its running time cut in half if this story was told in a movie. A Disney+ series for Alita: Battle Angel would be a great place for a sequel because Cameron and Rodriguez could be given precisely the length needed to tell this story properly. Whether the series became four to six 1 hour episodes or eight to ten shorter episodes, Alita could thrive in this format.
One potential holdup for Alita continuing on Disney+, though, could be budgetary concerns. Even though Disney is spending movie-level money on their Star Wars and MCU shows, they know that it is very likely that each of them will perform exceptionally well. The same might not be true of Alita, but Disney still might be able to reduce production costs through a series or utilizing similar virtual production techniques that The Mandalorian used.
Although it might be true that Alita: Battle Angel needs Disney+ more than the other way around, there's no question that Disney+ could also benefit from having the property's story continue. Disney+ has been a massive success with over 50 million paid subscribers in less than six months, but the service is still lacking in original content. It has been several months season one of The Mandalorian ended and there has yet to be another marquee exclusive. Disney+ has a pipeline of originals from Star Wars, Marvel Studios, Pixar, and more, but they still need more.
A sequel series for Alita would give the service another piece of original content, but also one that isn't that risky in the long-run. Disney is betting on Star Wars and the MCU to continue to be popular for years to come and that the shows will be on par or better than what people have seen in theaters. This was true of The Mandalorian, but there's the potential for the Marvel shows or troubled projects like the Obi-Wan Kenobi and Cassian Andor shows to tarnish Disney's biggest brands if they don't work. The same isn't true of Alita. If the series works, then Disney has another property they can continue to mine from, but it not performing as well as they hoped wouldn't hurt their plans for years to come.
Meanwhile, an Alita series could also represent Disney finding ways to capitalize on IP with passionate followings that also can give Disney+ something a bit different. A slightly more mature sci-fi series isn't something that Disney+ currently offers, and there aren't any reports that a property like this is on the horizon. Perhaps the idea of an Alita sequel series is already bubbling with Rodriguez reportedly working on The Mandalorian season 2. If he's familiar with the studio, the process, and the possible production conditions, it's possible he could consider tackling the Alita: Battle Angel sequel series himself.