Captain Marvel might be the movie everyone's talking about right now, but Alita: Battle Angel has been quietly entertaining the masses since its release and, as of this week had snugly perched in third place in the Worldwide box office rankings.
Per Box Office Mojo, the film has made over $350 million worldwide and just over $74 million domestically.
The wait for the Alita character to make it to the big screen was a long one; it took James Cameron 14 years to bring her to life after he purchased the rights in 2005 and, back then, a young designer at Activision named Casey Holtz was dreaming up a video game.
Alita breaks $350 million worldwide box office, defying critics. Who were the biggest markets for James Cameron's Battle Angel? AI breaks it down here: https://t.co/bVMr1VZWHt #AlitaBattleAngel #MovieNews pic.twitter.com/qinAwFiCJj— AnimeIndependent (@AnimeIndy) March 4, 2019
Holtz has been involved in titles such as Friday the 13th and Activision's licensed tie-in for the first X-Men Movie. He's been in love with Alita since picking up a comic book as a high school kid.
“I first came across Battle Angel Alita in high school at a local comic shop,” he wrote Kotaku in an email. “I fell in love with the beautiful artwork, character designs and action scenes as well as the deep and interesting world and characters. There are very few artists that can draw comics with the amount of detail and creativity like Yukito Kishiro."
As it turned out, Cameron was a big fan too. Alita was touted to be his "next big project" in 2004, but it ended up on the back burner as Avatar would come to the fore.
In 2005, Holtz wrote a one-page pitch on an Alita video game, describing the character as a girl with an organic brain and lethal cyborg body while Anthony Hon, an illustrator at Activision, threw in some of the art you see below.
Holtz saw the game as an open world in which players could explore Scrap Yard City, take on bounties or play motorball whenever they wanted to, while playing the campaign would take them through a plot similar to what's seen in the recent movie.
The pair sat down with Activision management to discuss the venture but the pitch was turned down. Sadly, another studio would get a license for an Alita tie-in game.
“At the time, it was my first year as a game designer in the industry, so I sincerely appreciated the management meeting with us and letting us pitch the game in the first place,” Holtz explained. “I think there were some concerns that the property was lesser known in the U.S. and Europe. Anime and manga were not as huge as they are now, so back then it was a bit of a tougher sell, even with the amazing film track record of James Cameron.”
The designer still thinks back on what it would have been like to play the game he pitched.
“Motorball would translate extremely well to a game,” he says. “The tracks are insane, with loops, hazards etc… and the competitors are all look deadly and have tons of unique abilities and weapons. It also lends itself well to some light RPG-style weapon and body upgrades which could be a lot of fun to unlock and use. I can imagine the sense of speed mixed with brutal melee combat would get people’s hearts racing and would feel fantastic to control.”
This isn't to say that Alita never made it to a video game, she actually did. The character is the subject of a game named Gunnm: Martian Memory which was released by Yukito products in Japan in 1998 for PlayStation. It just never really made its way out of Asia.