Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh adapting Mortal Engines
Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies) are making the feature Mortal Engines, based on the award-winning book series of the same name from British author Philip Reeve.
Jackson and Walsh have been involved with the project for several years, having optioned the rights from Scholastic. They have co-written the screenplay with collaborator Philippa Boyens (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies). Ken Kamins – Jackson, Walsh and Boyens’ longtime manager – brought the project to MRC.
MRC and Universal are co-financing the film. Universal will also serve as worldwide distributor. Production is slated to begin in New Zealand in Spring 2017.
Jackson, Walsh and Boyens made the movie King Kong with Universal in 2005, and then created King Kong: 360 3-D for Universal Studios Hollywood in 2010. “We loved working with Universal on Kong,” said Jackson. “It’s a joy to continue our friendship with many of those same people 11 years later. The Universal team have a genuine passion that inspires us.”
Christian Rivers is attached to direct. Christian has spent the majority of his 25-year career working closely with Jackson, beginning as a Story Board Artist, later moving into supervising visual effects and finally serving as Splinter Unit Director on The Hobbit trilogies. Christian won an Academy Award for his work on the 2005 film, King Kong (Best Achievement in Visual Effects). He also recently served as second unit director on the remake of Pete’s Dragon. Mortal Engines is his first project as director.
“Christian is one of my closest collaborators,” says Jackson, “The combination of emotion and jaw-dropping visuals in Mortal Engines makes this the perfect movie for his move into feature directing. What Christian intends to do with Philip Reeve’s terrific story is going to result in an original and spectacular movie. I wish I could see it tomorrow!”
“Peter, Fran, Philippa and Christian are all visionary storytellers with the gift of turning their passion projects into beloved blockbusters for a worldwide audience,” said Donna Langley, Chairman of Universal Pictures. “The studio is proud of our longstanding relationship with MRC and these tremendous filmmakers, and we are looking forward to collaborating on this cinematic re-imagination of Philip’s bold and fantastical novel.”
“‘Mortal Engines’ is one of those stories that was made for the big screen,” says Rivers. “A fantastical, futuristic world that has to be seen to be believed. At its heart though, it’s a beautiful love story and a richly complex character driven adventure. To be the director who gets to bring Philip Reeve’s incredible universe to life is a dream come true.”
Zane Weiner (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies), Amanda Walker (The Hobbit) and Deborah Forte (The Golden Compass, Goosebumps) are serving as producers, along with Walsh and Jackson. Ken Kamins (The Hobbit trilogy, District 9, Jack Reacher) will executive produce. Philippa Boyens will co-produce.
This is the first time that Walsh, Boyens and Jackson have written a project that Jackson has not directed. It is only the third project that Jackson and Walsh have produced for another filmmaker—the first being Neill Blomkamp’s Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated film District 9; the second was Steven Spielberg’s Golden Globe-winning The Adventures of Tintin.
Based on the first novel “Mortal Engines”, the film is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy and is the first in a planned series of films based on Philip Reeve’s novels. The series is comprised of four books: “Mortal Engines”, “Predator’s Gold”, “Infernal Devices” and “A Darkling Plain.”
“I’m thrilled that Christian, Fran, Philippa and Peter are bringing my book to the screen,” said Philip Reeve. “They’ve created some of the most memorable imaginary worlds in modern cinema, so I can’t wait to experience their vision of the world of ‘Mortal Engines.’”
Published in 2001 by Scholastic, Reeve’s “Mortal Engines” books have won several prestigious awards including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Smarties Gold Award and Blue Peter Book of the Year.
Mortal Engines is set in a world many thousands of years in the future. Earth’s cities now roam the globe on huge wheels, devouring each other in a struggle for ever diminishing resources. On one of these massive Traction Cities, Tom Natsworthy has an unexpected encounter with a mysterious young woman from the Outlands who will change the course of his life forever.