Had Mortal Engines arrived a few years earlier when Harry Potter, The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games were proving that YA literary adaptations made for viable multi-billion dollar box office behemoths, then it may have found a great deal more success.
Unfortunately, the trend had long since passed by the time the movie came to theaters in December 2018, and recent history had been littered with the bones of a thousand failed franchise-starters based on popular books. In the end, despite the talent involved, Mortal Engines wound up as one of the biggest flops of all-time.
Peter Jackson’s name was slapped all over the marketing, with The Lord of the Rings favorite producing and reuniting with Middle-Earth collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens to pen the script, but even the awards-laden dream team couldn’t save Mortal Engines from disaster.
An $83 million haul against a $150 million budget reportedly saw Universal take a financial hit of $175 million once marketing and distribution costs were factored in, with critics and audiences alike being left cold by the turgid dystopian action adventure.