A couple years after finishing The Hobbit trilogy, filmmaker Peter Jackson is gearing up to return in a big way. Although he intends to reunite with Steve Spielberg at some point for a Tintin sequel, it was reported this past summer that he has a secret project in the works that's taking priority. Now it looks like said project has finally been revealed to the public. It was announced earlier today that Jackson will work on a film adaptation of the YA sci-fi fantasy novel Mortal Engines, but not as its director.
According to THR, Peter Jackson, his producing partner/wife Fran Walsh and their frequent screenwriting collaborator Philippa Boyens penned the script for the Mortal Engines movie, which has landed at Universal. While this might seem like Jackson's bread and butter when it comes to directing, his protege, Christian Rivers, will instead be helming the movie as his feature directorial debut. Jackson expressed interest years ago in tackling Mortal Engines, and now that dream is finally coming to fruition. Universal is co-financing the film with MRC, and aside from Jackson, the movie's producers include Walsh, Boyens, Zane Weiner, Amanda Walker and Deborah Forte from Scholastic, the book's publisher.
For those unfamiliar with the book, Mortal Engines, written by Philip Reeve and published in 2001, takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where the "Sixty Minute War" saw numerous earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other geological events damage the planet. To escape this barrage, certain cities, like London, had engines attached that raised them into the air, allowing them to not only remain intact, but also plunder less fortunate cities for resources. Although the planet has since calmed down, this cutthroat way of life from the "Traction Cities" (a.k.a. the mobile metropolises) continues, and to make matter worse, technological progress has halted. The story's main protagonist, 15-year-old Tom Natsworthy, is a third class apprentice in the Guild of Historians, and with his allies, he has to figure out a mystery that could change Earth's status quo.
As mentioned earlier, fantasy is where Peter Jackson has shined best, so it's not surprising that he's waited so long to get this Mortal Engines adaptation off the ground. While it would have been great for him to direct the movie, the fact that he co-wrote the script and is staying aboard as a producer will undoubtedly pique many people's interest. The Mortal Engines book was followed by 2003's Predator's Gold, 2005's Infernal Devices and 2006's A Darkling Plain. All together, they are referred to as the Predator Cities tetralogy. Clearly there's enough material to make a movie series provided that the first entry is successful, but it's too soon to tell what the future holds on that front.
Mortal Engines is scheduled to begin production in New Zealand sometime in spring 2017. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for all the most relevant updates surrounding the project.