Peter Jackson looking to adapt fantasy novel MORTAL ENGINES for Universal

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There was a time when complex fantasy stories were rarely considered to adapt to movies. And this was understandable considering the logistical difficulty in faithfully bringing a fantasy world to the big screen. Modern advances in CGI changed all that though and now even the most complex of fantasy worlds such as Lord of the Rings have found their way onto our cinema screens, looking incredibly realistic and lifelike. And Peter Jackson is one of the reasons we have this situation in the movie world and we should be grateful for it. And he is planning to adapt another complex fantasy story in Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines.

Now to be fair, this is a much lesser known story than Tolkien’s classic, but is still massively popular and will represent an incredible technical challenge to bring to adapt. 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.

It’s the perfect setting for Jackson and team to work their CGI magic and take audiences to another massively realized world. However, it does look like this will not be another Hobbit set of films with drawn out action scenes, as they will be getting more to the point of telling the books story all in the space of one movie.

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ComingSoon.net are reporting that Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh have reportedly been involved with the project for several years and have co-written the screenplay with regular collaborator Philippa Boyens with whom they wrote the The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. However, one difference this time round will be that Jackson himself will not be directing the film, with Christian Rivers set to bring the film to screen.

Now Rivers might not sound like much of a name to you and as a director he shouldn’t be as this will be his debute.  but he is also another of Jackson’s frequent collaborators and has worked as a storyboard artist for over 25 years and won an Oscar for visual effects in 2005’s King Kong, so he knows a lot about making movies. And with Jackson’s eye for detail looking over him, this should still be an exciting project to look out for.

Of Rivers’ role as director, Jackson had the following to say:

Christian is one of my closest collaborators. 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!

Universal will be picking up the distribution of the film in the hope that it could yet another bankable franchise to have in their pipeline. Mortal Engines is the first of a series of books by Reeve with Predator’s Gold, Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain all continuing the story. The plan is to adapt them as well if this first film is a success.

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I’m personally not familiar with the series and have never read them, but the premise sounds exciting and I love sci-fi/fantasy stories, so have high hopes for this one. And I can take full confidence that visually at least, the film should be stunning.

What other fantasy novels would you like to see made into a movie?

Last Updated: October 26, 2016

Craig Risi

A man of many talents, but no sense how to use them. I could be out changing the world, but I'd rather be running, watching movies, playing games and writing here instead.

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