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As befits the new Feb. 13, 2019 domestic release date (Feb. 6 in the U.K.), this third trailer for Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel emphasizes the romance between Alita (Rosa Salazar) and Hugo (Keean Johnson) and doesn’t get all action-y until its third act. That sets it apart from the earlier and more frenetic sells. Once again, this looks pretty terrific, and in a less IP-obsessed or nostalgia-driven theatrical environment, this would be a surefire hit. But today, well, there’s a reason it got moved from Dec. 21, 2018 (where it would have been hammered by Aquaman, Bumblebee and Mary Poppins Returns) to Feb. 13 of next year.
The mega-budget, James Cameron-produced adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s manga is at a disadvantage precisely because it looks new and somewhat different. So the question becomes whether James Cameron, in a producer role but surely selling the hell out of this and somewhat claiming ownership, can be as much of a marquee sell for a “new to you” sci-fi spectacular as Christopher Nolan. Save for Nolan’s Inception in 2010 and Interstellar in 2014 (and Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity in 2013), Cameron’s Avatar was one of the last time that a mega-budget movie was successfully sold to top-tier grosses partially from its alleged originality and uniqueness. Can magic strike again?