Back in the early 2000’s, it felt like everything Peter Jackson touched was turning to gold. The producer/writer/director of the multi-Oscar winning Lord of the Rings franchise had everyone’s attention and for the first time in his career, people were seeing Jackson as a franchise filmmaker. This newfound fame earned him legions of devoted fans; eager to experience anything and everything he planned to take on.
Though later efforts never quite matched the success of Lord of the Rings, Jackson’s recent return to Middle-earth with The Hobbit trilogy saw him once again take on the challenge of adapting a colossal tale. With the completion of that series back in 2014, fans have been wondering what he’ll set his sights on next, just as many people have been curious to see if Jackson will continue to maintain his role as a master storyteller of humongous proportions.
What we do know of Jackson’s future work is that he has been co-writing a script based on the YA novel series Mortal Engines with his Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit co-writers Phillipa Boyens and Fran Walsh. Thanks to a new update on the project from Deadline, we now know that Universal Pictures will release Mortal Engines on December 14, 2018. Unfortunately for Jackson fans, Mortal Engines does not involve Jackson as director. Instead, first-time director Christian Rivers will take on that challenge, with Jackson also producing.
Mortal Engines is a 4-novel series, written by prolific British author Philip Reeve. The stories fall into the steampunk/fantasy genre and focus on a dystopian future in which London is ruled over by Nikola Quercus – a man who installs wheels and engines on the city in order to enable it to roam the earth in search of resources. Earth has been turned into a wasteland of sorts, in which some cities are like London and others fight to prevent such metropolises from traveling around, stealing resources. As of this writing there’s no confirmation on whether Jackson and Universal are planning to adapt the entire series, but as with all franchises, their fate depends almost entirely on box office revenues of the first installment.
While Mortal Engines does sound interesting, some Peter Jackson fans might be wishing that the Oscar-winning director was instead investing more of his time in the follow up to 2011’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Both Steven Spielberg and Jackson have repeatedly assured fans that The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun is on its way, though the specifics of the animated film and its arrival remain very much a mystery. Tintin likely has a much broader fanbase than that of Mortal Engines, but for whatever reason, right now the latter seems to be more of a priority.
With the storytelling abilities of Jackson, Boyens and Walsh together again, there’s a very good chance that Universal will have a new franchise on their hands with Mortal Engines. There have been concerns that tasking a first-time director with a project as potentially huge as this one is quite risky, but Jackson has plenty of experience creating and organizing a franchise. It might be a while before we see him behind the camera once more, but for now Mortal Engines looks like a great opportunity for the talented filmmaker to wow us all yet again.
Mortal Engines opens in theaters on December 14, 2018