About a week ago, Collider partnered up with IMAX and 20th Century Fox for a special IMAX 3D screening of Alita: Battle Angel before it was in theaters. While getting to show the film early was really cool, for me the highlight came after the screening, when I got to moderate an extended Q&A with producer Jon Landau.
During the 50-minute Q&A, he shared a ton of great behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the film including the long history of trying to get the story on the big screen, how they cast Rosa Salazar as Alita, the importance of modern VFX technology in bringing the story to life, why you should see the film in IMAX 3D, the importance of having practical sets and the look of the film, if they had difficulty getting a PG-13, the collaboration between James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez, and so much more. In addition, for Avatar fans, Landau talked about where they are in the production of Avatar 2 and the other sequels and how each of them is a standalone film.
Finally, I’ve seen Alita three times and absolutely loved it. James Cameron, Robert Rodriguez, and Jon Landau have crafted something special and it’s one of those rare films that’s actually worth seeing in 3D. Trust me, the visual effects are insane, the action set pieces are easy to follow and well shot, and Rosa Salazar is fantastic as Alita. In addition, the world of Alita is the type of place I wish I could visit, and I hope they’re able to make future installments. Finally, if you live near an IMAX theater, I strongly recommend seeing Alita in IMAX 3D because you’ll get to see about 26% more image in a number of scenes. Alita also stars Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali, Jennifer Connelly, Lana Condor, Keean Johnson, Jorge Lendeborg Jr., and Jackie Earle Haley.
Check out what Jon Landau had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about followed by some recent links.
- History of Alita and how long it has been in development.
After paring down the script, one or two things he would have liked to see if the movie could have been three hours that didn’t make the cut, if any.
- Could the movie have been made before now with the technology we have today?
- Which sequences Jon was dreading to shoot because of how challenging they would be?
- Challenges faced in the edit room for this project.
- Why Alita should be seen in IMAX.
- The importance of seeing Alita in 3D and the challenge of making it in 3D.
- Casting Rosa Salazar as “Alita”.
- Scenes that were cut and if there was any finished footage that was cut before it was completed.
- The importance of having practical sets and the look of the film.
- The realistic clothing of the movie and how the future looks in the film 500 years from now.
- The last time Jon and James Cameron had a fight about something on a movie.
How James Cameron is the smartest guy in the room and is always pushing the boundary with technology.
- Where the Avatar sequels are in production.
- Having all the scripts done for Avatar sequels before shooting.
- Underwater performance capture in Avatar.
- Why the Titanic was built only 85% of the way through and not 100% for the film.
- VR in film and if we might start seeing VR in movie theaters.
- Without giving away spoilers, how they pulled off a certain scene with Alita and another character because it was not real.
- Screening the movie for the creator of the graphic novel of Alita.
- Why has it been tough for Manga and Japanese IP to be successful.
- How Jon prepared for a movie of this size and scope.
- Designing the look of “Alita”.
How they were able to pull of a “PG-13” rating.
- Physical preparation prior to shooting for action scenes.
- Other Japanese IP or Manga that they are interested in making.
- Creating a proper narrative when people are looking for sequels and big universes
- How Disney buying Fox affects Jon.
- Any sort of outlines or plans for sequels for Alita.
- The decision to keep product placement out of the film.
- The collaboration between James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez.
- Involvement with Tim Miller on the new Terminator.
- Latin actors in the film and if those decisions were made before or after Robert’s involvement.
- Which of the Avatar sequels Jon is looking forward to the most.