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Peter Jackson has had a major in the development of the new adaptation Mortal Engines, but the one noteworthy role he's not playing is "director." While he is a writer and producer on the blockbuster, Jackson opted to not take the helm of the adventure movie -- handing the reins to filmmaker Christian Rivers and playing a more supportive role. It's a curious choice for the filmmaker, but one he fully explained to us last year while Mortal Engines was in production:
It was particularly the speed with which Mortal Engines came together after years of development that ultimately prevented Peter Jackson from directing, as apparently he just didn't have the time to make some big choices for the film as he was still working on the Hobbit trilogy. He told us about this last year when I joined a small group of other movie journalists for a quick trip out to Wellington, New Zealand to visit the set of the then-filming movie. It was Jackson's first answer in a roundtable interview, bluntly asked why he didn't direct this movie himself.
Peter Jackson's explanation didn't stop there, however. Clearly time was a factor in his decisions, but he also found himself with other things to consider. One example was his relationship with the aforementioned Christian Rivers -- with whom Jackson has been working going back to the early 1990s. The Oscar winning-director felt he wanted to give his friend his shot at directing something epic, and Mortal Engines became that shot.
The other big element on the table in this whole decision was simply the other projects that Peter Jackson wants to work on. While he is certainly putting a lot of time and resources behind the adaptation of author Philip Reeve's novel, he also has ideas pulling him in other directions, and putting Christian Rivers in charge of Mortal Engines allows him to pursue those other developments. Said Jackson,
Peter Jackson hasn't been credited at the helm of a film since 2014's The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies, but that streak will soon end. The writer/director has been hard at work on a documentary about World War I that is expected to debut this year, commemorating 100 years since the end of the conflict -- though a firm release date has not yet been announced. Naturally it has our interest piqued, and we will be looking out for more info.
That future is a touch uncertain, but what is not is the arrival of Mortal Engines. The post-post-apocalyptic tale, telling of a world where cities are giant mechanized machines that can consume one another, is set to be one of the last blockbusters of the year, scheduled for release on December 14th. We have a ton more coverage about the movie from our trip to the set coming up, so be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend.