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Austin filming locations for Alita: Battle Angel

Alita Battle Angel

Sci-fi feature Alita: Battle Angel had its dystopian world created at Robert Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios in Austin, Texas.

Rodriguez directed the movie, with filmmaker James Cameron involved with the project as a co-writer and producer.

The ‘cyberpunk’ action film follows the adventures of part-cyborg young woman Alita and her self-discovery in a 26th century metropolis known as Iron City.

Rodriguez's movie is based on the Manga series Gunnm by Yukito Kishiro.

Iron City was built as a partial set for the shoot – utilising the skills of more than 200 craftspeople – on the back lot of Troublemaker Studios. The facility itself was set up by Rodriguez as his base of operations in the early 1990s. 

Rodriguez’s production team built just a handful of street sets that were shot to feel like a full city in the final edit.

The sets also had to be designed with the scale to accommodate the motion capture technology used to contribute to the eventual rendering of Alita’s exaggerated facial features in line with her Manga origins. 

Peter Jackson’s visual effects house Weta Digital was brought on for the motion capture work, having proved itself a world leader in the technology following crucial involvement in the recent Planet of the Apes franchise.

Big-budget production is rare in Texas due to limited filming incentive support and a lack of large-scale studio facilities. Rodriguez can make the finances work as he operates within his own studio hub.

Producers frequently use locations in New Mexico or Louisiana as stand-ins for Texas story settings, with both states offering generous filming incentives and well-developed studios.

See KFTV's production guide for more on filming in Texas.

Image: 20th Century Fox