The long-gestating live-action movie adaptation of Yukito Kishiro’s Battle Angel Alita finally appears to be heading into production with Robert Rodriguez directing and James Cameron producing.  The movie recently got a release date of July 20, 2018 (see "Best in Shows Update"), and now, according to Collider, Rose Salazar (Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials) has won the role of the eponymous amnesiac cyborg assassin.

In other casting news, Kenneth Choi, who played Judge Lance Ito in “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” has been cast as Peter Parker’s high school principal in Spider-Man: Homecoming, the reboot starring Tom Holland that is due in theaters on July 28, 2017 (see "'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Casts Its Net").  Deadline also reports that the 14-year-old Michael Barbieri, who was recently cast as Timmy in Sony’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, is also joining the cast of Spider-Man: Homecoming, which is being directed by Jon Watts.

Meanwhile Josh Duhamel has taken time off from hawking the slender virtues of his native North Dakota in TV commercials to return to the Transformers franchise for Michael Bay’s Transformers: The Last Knight, which is due in theaters on June 23, 2017 (see "Best in Shows Update: 2 Fox Marvel Movies Rescheduled").  Bay took to Twitter to welcome Duhamel, who acted in the first three Transformers films, back to the franchise, and also to announce that Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins would bring his talents to Transformers: The Last Knight.  What role will Hopkins voice?  Here’s hoping it will be the planet-munching Unicron that was gargled magnificently by Orson Welles in the 1986 Transformers movie.

Dreamworks’ live-action adaptation of Masamune Shirow’s cyberthriller manga Ghost in the Shell has been accused of “whitewashing” in the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the role of the female head of a key government security team named (in the manga and anime) Major Motoko Kusanagi (see "First Live-Action 'Ghost in the Shell' Movie"), so the news from The Hollywood Reporter that the Tokyo-born Rila Fukushima (Yukio in the 2013 Wolverine, and Katana on the CW’s Arrow) is joining the cast of Ghost in the Shell, which also includes Juliette Binoche, Takeshi Kitano, and Michael Pitt, is a good thing (and long overdue).

Speaking of manga adaptations—Netflix has picked up the live-action adaptation of Death Note that Warner Bros. had developed and then put into "turnaround" (see "Netflix Picks Up Live-Action 'Death Note'"), and plans to start production on a Death Note feature film this summer.  Variety reports that Keith Stanfield, who acted with Brie Larson in Short Term 12, and played Snoop Dog in Straight Outta Compton, has joined the cast of Death Note, which is being written and directed by Adam Wingard.

Finally, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Mackenzie Davis, who appeared in The Martian, is joining the cast of the Blade Runner sequel that also includes Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford and Sylvia Hoeks.  Denis Villeneuve is helming the new Blade Runner film, which is set to begin production later this summer (see "End of April Geek Movie Round-Up").