It's a project he's been talking about for at least a decade, but with the all-consuming expanded Avatar universe occupying his immediate future, many assumed that James Cameron had reluctantly consigned his once cherished Manga adaptation Battle Angel to the scrapheap of the might-have-been. Not so, according to an interview he's just given at Mexico City's tech-fest TagDF. With admirable forward planning, his current Battle Angel agenda, it seems, is to get cracking post-Avatar sequels in 2017.
Beginning with Avatar, Cameron says that the sequels will shift the focus from awe-inspiring technology to a greater investment in story and character. It's here that he makes the leap to Battle Angel, explaining that themes of trans-human exploration have "haunted" him for years, and are as much a part of the cyberpunk manga as they are of the blue-alien space opera. 2017, however, is the year he says Battle Angel's development stage will begin, presumably around the time of Avatar 3's post-production, or once it's fully complete.
Battle Angel, if you're new here, is based on Yukito Kishiro's nine-volume manga Battle Angel Alita ("Gun / Dream" in Japan): the story of an amnesiac female cyborg who becomes a bounty hunter, after being rescued from the rubbish dump and rebuilt by a professor of cybernetics. There was a short-lived stab at an anime version in 1993.
Cameron's talk of beginning development in four years' time kind of contradicts his statement of three years ago, when he revealed that a year of pre-production had happened, test reels had been produced, and that Battle Angel was at the "just add water" stage. But with the rapid developments in technology since then, it seems reasonable to assume that much of the work already completed is now already out of date, and will only be more so by 2017. With that in mind, a complete start-over makes sense, although we're sure the ground-work won't be wasted.
Good news then for those who have had an eye on this tantalising project for, like, ever. Its still a loooong way off though: if Cameron really does only begin Battle Angel in 2017, it's going to be close to 2020 before we finally get to see it. We'll all have flying skateboards and self-tying trainers by then. In the meantime, there's the small matter of Avatars 2 and 3, currently expected, at the earliest, in 2015.