Peter Jackson Secretly Adapting ‘Mortal Engines?’

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 4th, 2013 at 7:37 pm,

With Peter Jackson hard at work on such little projects as The Hobbit adaptation and Tintin (amongst others), it’s hard to believe he has time for anything else. And yet we get word today that Jackson may be secretly working on Mortal Engines, an adaptation of a fantasy series of novels collectively known as Mortal Engines Quartet.

The news comes from The Dominion Post, and they say Jackson is secretly working to adapt Mortal Engines, with early development already underway, bringing the first in the series of four books to the big-screen. Weta Workshops (who were responsible for the effects in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, amongst many other things) have apparently been working on designs for the project, which is being described as “hush-hush.”

If this news is true, some people aren’t going to be happy the cat got out of the bag this early…

Jackson is understood to have had the rights to the books for some time, but he wasn’t available for comment on this. However, a spokesman for Jackson didn’t deny he was involved in developing the project, but said that, “any comment should come from Peter.”

So what’s this Mortal Engines I speak of? Well, as I said it’s the first in a series of four fantasy novels published between 2001-2006, written by Philip Reeve. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world, “where cities have become giant vehicles and must consume each other to survive.” The main characters are a fifteen year old orphan from London (or a weird alternative version of the city, as is the setting in the book) and a young girl he meets who believes cities should stay put and not move around. The first book has won a Nestles Smarties Book Prize and was even shortlisted for the 2002 Whitbread award.

Mortal Engines 570x339 Peter Jackson Secretly Adapting Mortal Engines?

This news comes after Jackson talked a bit about his planned adaptation of Temeraire, a “dragon wars” book series which Jackson recently revealed he’s thinking about bringing to the small screen as an 8-part miniseries. And of course there’s still the aforementioned Hobbit and Tintin, as well The Lovely Bones (which just debuted in limited theatrical release). Busy man, that Peter Jackson…

Much like Temeraire, I’m not familiar with Mortal Engines but it certainly sounds like an out-there idea, something that I’d imagine would come from the mind of someone like Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle) or from a Japanese manga. I’m always happy to see fantasy novels get the big-screen treatment (when they’re done well, that is), so I’m intrigued and looking forward to what Jackson has in store for us with this one.

Do you like the sound of Mortal Engines and do you like that Peter Jackson is apparently adapting it? Anyone out there read the books, by any chance? If so, would they make decent movies?

Sources: The Dominion Post (thanks to /Film) and David Wyatt (for the Mortal Engines artwork)

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  1. The Great Adapter strikes again!

  2. Sounds like a something I wouldn’t watch.

  3. looks lame….Temeraire seems much more LOTR-esque in scale/story/effects

  4. These books are some of the best, Philip Reeve should be a household name alongside the likes of JK Rowling and Philip Pullman.

    These books are far more readable than any of the books of either of those two popular writers. They are breathlessly fast paced with deep feeling and mindless crulty all mixed into a beautifully scripted series which has teenagers like me fighting over the novels with their fathers.

    I wrote a letter to Peter Jackson after finishing the last book begging him to make it into a film, but decided not to send it as I didnt want to share Hester with anyone else!

  5. as long as this in no way affects all the other crap this guy is magically composing..

    including district 10

    then we good an power to you bra

  6. These books are AMAZING and would make excellent movies, if adapted right! P.J. would be just the man for the job.

  7. I remember trying to read LOTR as a boy and finding it near impossible, but still i loved the films
    Im 17 now and i just finished this series, couldnt put it down for weeks….
    I’m definatley seeing this if it comes out

  8. AWESOME! These books are so brilliant and deserve film treatment. They really need a monster budget though. A trailer would bring in so many just from the look of it. It’s such a cool concept!

  9. The Mortal Engines series is possibly the best series of books I have ever read, and I have read a few (LotR, Discworld, The Brentford Trilogy, to name a few). With a good adaption, this could also make the best series of films I have ever watched as well.

    All we have to ask is if there is any director up to the task.

  10. Done right this would be amazing. However, Mr. Jackson has a penchant for ignoring subtle nuance in stories, turning things which could otherwise have been careful, clever alegories and character driven plots into cookie cutter heroic quests. I feel that Shrike and Hester are unlikely to come across as characterful in a Peter Jackson film, and certainly neither will be able to have such a hideous physical presence as they do in the books (at least not without pushing the censor’s rating up a few notches).

    The recipe for a good Mortal Engines adaptation is keeping the characters nuanced and emotionally engaging and keeping for the most part away from turning it into an epic quest. If anything the story is about Tom realising that adventures and quests aren’t like in stories – people die. Somewhere in Mortal Engines is the antidote to cookie cutter epic quests.

  11. I would LOVE to see a mortal engines film! The series is my favorite book series, and Peter Jackson did such a great job with Lord of the Rings, I’d love to see his take on this!

  12. So to answer the question why don’t I want a Hobbit movie to be made, it’s three years and there’s still not even a hint of a Mortal Engines movie. Screw seeing something new in the Cinema let’s go back to middle earth for an exciting thrill ride.

  13. I would absolutely love to see Mortal Engines adapted into a movie, but after three years, it seems doubtful that it will be made. I would partly love, love, LOVE to see Mortal Engines in theaters, but I also think that if a movie is made, it will suddenly become one of the “popular” books.

    • See that’s why The Hobbit movies are really pissing me off. It feels like the Lord of The Rings fans had their turn and now it’s time for someone else to enjoy having their books turned into movies. Peter Jackson is one the few people I think are actually qualified to make Mortal Engines into a movie.

      It’s not that I hate LOTRs but couldn’t Peter just have put The Hobbit on the backburner to make this instead?

  14. As I’m writing this in December of 2014, clearly I’m a little late to comment.
    The first thing I’d like to say is that the series has an interesting set of characters that I hope no one messes around with in the adaption, and a rather dark set of events based on choices made by characters that I hope no one changes or augments in any way, because the style of storytelling in this series is just so unique that doing so would take away from its charm.
    Second, I want to see how Jackson will work in the little mini-epilogue snippets about various characters as they make their exits from the main plot throughout the books. That sort of thing is pulled off rather easily in the books, and they’re unusual in that their exits are so lacking in drama, which adds to the overall charm of the way Reeve treats his characters.
    And finally, I want an estimate on the budget for this movie. Y’know, curiosity’s sake.