Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philipa Boyens — the co-writers of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies — have been given the greenlight to adapt Philip Reeve's book Mortal Engines into a movie. Jackson has been passionate about this one since 2009, when the project was first mentioned and rumors were that he was going to direct. That won't be the case here; Deadline reports that he, Walsh, and Boyens wrote the screenplay, but he's handing directing duties off to his Hobbit VFX protege Christian Rivers. This will be Rivers' directorial debut, but he's been working with Jackson for the past 25 years in positions ranging from a storyboard artist to a second unit director, so he's likely absorbed enough to know how to get the job done.
I've never read Reeve's book (which is the first in a series), but Deadline has a short, simple breakdown of its plot:
It’s a [post-apocalyptic film set in a] distant future where the cities of earth roam the globe on huge wheels, consuming smaller towns and processing all reusable materials to create power to run the engines that make the cities mobile and able to gobble up more and more of the planet’s dwindling resources. London’s mayor has bigger plans than the domination of a small town and several young people try to stop him.
Whoa. That sounds like it could be seriously epic, and according to this statement, Jackson certainly has confidence in his young protege:
“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!”
Since Amblin Entertainment isn't mentioned in the press release, it seems like a good bet that we can cross Mortal Engines off the list of contenders for being the secret project Jackson was working on for Steven Spielberg earlier this summer. (Either that, or the movie has simply switched companies and Amblin is no longer involved.)
Production on the film begins next spring in New Zealand. Have you read the book? Are you ready to see a film version?