Six movies and almost fifteen years after The Lord of the Rings first graced the big screen, prolific filmmaker Peter Jackson finally closed the book on his Middle-earth with the release of The Battle of the Five Armies. That was two years ago and since then, despite ruminating on a Tintin sequel and that super-secret project with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin, Jackson has been keeping a fairly low profile.
Until now, that is, for today we have word that the Kiwi director is circling back to an adaptation of Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines, the first entry into a four-part steampunk saga. It’s a project that Peter Jackson has been developing for some time now, though we understand he won’t be directing, instead writing the screenplay with regular collaborators Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens. He’ll leave directing duties to Christian Rivers, a long-time protege of Jackson who has worked under the filmmaker for years as a visual effects specialist, even nabbing an Academy award for his contribution to 2005’s King Kong.
“Christian is one of my closest collaborators,” Jackson told The Hollywood Reporter. “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!”
Taking place in a grim, dystopian future, Mortal Engines is set thousand of years in the future where a devastating war has left humanity squabbling for resources, as the remaining cities of the world roll across this most desolate land on giant wheels. Jackson and Christian Rivers are clearly eyeing a new franchise here, so it’ll be fascinating to see how the adaptation pans out.
Filming on Mortal Engines is expected to get underway in New Zealand next spring. We’ll keep you posted if and when more information comes to light.