Two of the last three films Jon Landau has produced have become the highest-grossing films of all time. So when the guys speaks, smart people tend to listen.
Nowadays, Landau is speaking loud and clear about his Oscar hopes for “Avatar,” the potential "Avatar" sequel and a possible "Avatar" prequel for James Cameron’s hugely-successful movie — but the project he deems to be the next blockbuster Landau/Cameron franchise is “Battle Angel: Alita.”
When he stopped by our studios, Landau gave us an update on the long-gestating project, revealing that he’s determined to get Cameron to change the title to "Alita" first and foremost. But, after telling us that screenwriter Laeta Kalogridis had opened the duo’s eyes to all nine books in the series, Landau said the biggest obstacle now is figuring out which tales to tell from Yukito Kishiro’s manga series.
“We’re trying to pick what is the best story to tell,” explained Landau, who has served as Cameron’s producer on both “Avatar” and “Titanic."
“It’s sort of like when you do a biopic; you can’t really do a biopic that goes from cradle to grave," he said. "You have to pick out what is the important section in that person’s life, to tell that story.”
And in their “biopic” on the rescued robotic warrior Alita, Cameron and Landau plan to focus on the earlier part of her life.
“I think we’ll tend to err on the earlier side, because it is the more fascinating side where Alita’s lost her memory and she doesn’t know where she comes from,” he explained. “And it’s when she discovers where she comes from, she’s terrified of it and doesn’t believe that that’s who she really is.”
Landau is also partial to that period in Alita’s life because it will give him the chance to see his favorite element on the big-screen.
“If people are familiar with the series at all, there’s something they call Motorball,” Landau said of the one aspect of “Alita” that he’s most eager to see Cameron capture. “That is something that Jim has always been dynamically excited about. It’s racing on a super track, with characters that are built and created in the cyborg world to race against each other in an arena.”
“It’s almost like a gladiator match meets an Indy 500 race,” Landau added. “[Their mode of battle] depends on who they are. It depends how they’ve been modified as cyborgs; they’re not in cars — it’s their physical being that is out there. Some of them are on roller skates — and Alita participates in this, and she’s on roller blades, while other people might have different devices. It’s a wonderful, rich world to design and develop.”
Oh, and in case there’s any doubt: Cameron will make the movie in 3-D, natch.
“Jim’s gonna do all of his movies in 3D [from now on]; he’ll do even the smallest drama,” Landau confirmed. “I think even if Jim were to do ‘My Dinner With Andre,’ he would do it in 3D.”
Is Motorball the "Alita" element you're also most eager to see on the big screen? If not, then what is it? Let us know what you think in the comment section or on Twitter!