‘Mortal Engines’ BTS Featurette: Peter Jackson and Co. Spawn Another Cinematic World

Universal Pictures

“The breadth of vision that they brought to Lord of the Rings, they’re going to bring the same to Mortal Engines.”

So says actor Robert Sheehan (Misfits), who co-stars alongside Hera Hilmer and Hugo Weaving in Mortal Engines, an adventure film from Lord of the Rings teams Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh.

Universal Pictures has dropped a behind-the-scenes featurette for the film, which is set in a future where gigantic cities roam a desolate Earth on giant wheels, attacking and devouring smaller towns to replenish their resources. It’s based on the book by Philip Reeve, and it could mark another big cinematic universe for the LotR creatives. There are four books to tackle if this first film goes well.

While Jackson and co. are a major part of the creative team, at the helm is Christian Rivers, making his feature directorial debut. Rivers is a longtime collaborator of Jackson’s, having worked as creature and gore effect technician on Jackson’s Dead Alive back in 1992. He’s certainly been able to pick up a thing or two over the years, especially when it comes to world building (he worked on the pre-visualization and effects of the LotR trilogy and a storyboard artist on The Hobbit trilogy). Fingers crossed here.

Mortal Engines, also starring  Stephen Lang, Frankie Adams, Colin Salmon, Regé-Jean Page, Ronan Raftery, Patrick Malahide and Leila George, will open in the US on December 14 and arrives in Australia on December 26.

Official synopsis for Mortal Engines:

Thousands of years after civilization was destroyed by a cataclysmic event, humankind has adapted and a new way of living has evolved. Gigantic moving cities now roam the Earth, ruthlessly preying upon smaller traction towns. Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan)—who hails from a Lower Tier of the great traction city of London—finds himself fighting for his own survival after he encounters the dangerous fugitive Hester Shaw (Hera Hilmar). Two opposites, whose paths should never have crossed, forge an unlikely alliance that is destined to change the course of the future.


Mortal Engines is the startling, new epic adventure directed by Oscar®-winning visual-effects artist Christian Rivers (King Kong). Joining Rivers are The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies three-time Academy Award®-winning filmmakers Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, who have penned the screenplay. The Universal and MRC adaptation is from the award-winning book series by Philip Reeve, published in 2001 by Scholastic.


On board as producers are Zane Weiner (The Hobbit trilogy), Amanda Walker (The Hobbit trilogy) and Deborah Forte (Goosebumps), as well as Walsh and Jackson. Ken Kamins (The Hobbit trilogy) joins Boyens as executive producer. Universal will distribute the film worldwide.

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

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