Peter Jackson's Mortal Engines adaptation set for Christmas 2018

Ben Skipper
Contributor
Peter Jackson (Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images)

Universal Pictures has high hopes for Peter Jackson’s upcoming adaptation of Phillip Reeve’s ‘Mortal Engines’ novels, having set it a release date of 14 December, 2018.

‘Lord of the Rings’ director Jackson won’t be directing the film himself, but is producing it and wrote the adapted screenplay with his wife and long-time collaborator Fran Walsh.

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‘Mortal Engines’ is a fantasy series set in a Victorian and Steampunk-inspired London which roams (thanks to enormous, monstrous engines) a post-apocalyptic world, feasting on other cities for parts. The story focuses on Tom Natsworthy, a 15-year-old orphan who uncovers a mystery that could change the world.

The success of the books, coupled with its teen protagonist, make it ripe for a high-profile adaptation. Could this be the next ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Hunger Games’? Universal certainly hopes so, but it’ll have tough competition in late 2018. This week, 20th Century Fox dated an untitled film from James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment for 21 December, 2018.

Jackson has been pursuing the project for some time. His intentions to adapt the series were first revealed in 2009, but it wasn’t until October 2016 that he officially announced the production.

‘Mortal Engines’ will be directed by Christian Rivers, a protege of Jackson’s who has drawn story-boards for each of his films since ‘Braindead’. Rivers has directed his own short film, and was a second unit director on this year’s remake of ‘Pete’s Dragon’. ‘Mortal Engines’ will mark his feature film debut however.

“Christian is one of my closest collaborators,” Jackson said in October. “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!”