Peter Jackson made a recent announcement on his facebook page that his next movie project will be adapting Philip Reeve’s book, Mortal Engines. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic future where cities move about on wheels, devouring smaller cities for their resources. The book is the first in a series of four books, presenting the opportunity for ‘sequels’ down the road.
The project will bring together many of the crew who worked on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit franchises, including Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens who adapted the Mortal Engines script. The movie will be directed by Christian Rivers, the VFX master of The Hobbit. From Deadline Hollywood:
“Christian is one of my closest collaborators,” says Jackson in a statement. “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!”
The text of PJ’s facbook post is below
OUR NEXT MOVIE!
It’s been a quiet few months, but I’m very happy to tell you that our next project is now underway.
WingNut Films be producing a feature film based on Philip Reeve’s book Mortal Engines, to be directed by Christian Rivers. The script has been written by Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens and myself.
Some of you may recall that Christian was going to direct the Dambusters a few years back. Since then he’s kept himself busy, making short films, and directing Second Units on The Hobbit and Pete’s Dragon.
Our involvement in Mortal Engines actually pre-dates Dambusters (which is still happening) – Christian actually worked on Mortal Engines previs way back in 2009. It’s very exciting to finally get it underway!
We’ve had the rights to Philip’s book series for several years, but have had to wait for the right time to make it.
If you haven’t read the books, you should. They present a stunning look into the future, when all of Earth’s major cities are now mounted on wheels, roaming across the landscape as massive “Traction Cities”. Our society has build itself on the principals of Municipal Darwinism – this basically involves the bigger cities hunting down, and consuming, the smaller ones. And that’s only the backdrop to an original and emotional personal story.
Philip Reeve has created a range of intriguing characters, following their adventures in our strange future world through four books – “Mortal Engines”, “Predator’s Gold”, “Infernal Devices” and “A Darkling Plain”.
The moment we read these novels, we knew what exciting movies they’d make. I literally can’t wait to see them!
The movie will be financed by MRC and Universal, and shooting will get underway next March, in New Zealand. Producers Zane Weiner and Amanda Walker, who both worked on the Hobbit, will be spearheading the NZ based team, along with Deborah Forte in the US.
No casting to announce yet, but Weta Workshop and Weta Digital are both onboard.
With the wheels now rolling on Mortal Engines, I’ll bring you a lot of news and sneak peeks at what we’re doing over the coming months.
Check out this wonderful Entertainment Weekly interview with Peter Jackson about his experiences with, and memories of, the actor who brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s wizard Saruman to life for millions of loving fans. You’ll chuckle at PJ recalling some comical moments, but have a box of tissues ready because you just might shed a tear too. Read more…
Here’s a nice story from stuff.co.nz: Sir Peter Jackson has come to the rescue of a historic Wellington church. Jackson and wife Fran Walsh have bought St Christopher’s Church in the suburb of Seatoun for $1.06 million in a move that saves the earthquake-prone church and neighbouring hall from potential demolition. The couple made their latest purchase to ensure the buildings would not be lost from the peninsula, trust chairman Richard Stubbs said. According to Stubbs, the community would have faced a huge fundraising effort were it not for Jackson and Walsh stepping in.
“They’ve rescued it. They’ve totally relieved us of that obligation, and that means we can get on and run the facilities … their involvement here is absolutely pivotal. They’ve done this for the people of the peninsula, and indeed for Wellington.”
Read the rest of the article on the stuff.co.nz website here.
In the USA, from March 24th, the last in Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth movies will be available for you to take home. (It’s been available in digital version in many countries since March 3rd; but from Tuesday you can get your hands on a ‘hard’ copy.)
Inside a sound stage, or outside on location, it is a constant and central fixture on a movie shoot. It is home base for Peter Jackson and his team.
It is sacred ground — more or less.
The decisions made inside it, by the team, under Jackson’s direction, are crucial to the project where it is determined what will later happen in front of the camera.
So every day, whatever happens to a set or a sound stage overnight, the tent is there set up and waiting for the core of the shooting unit.
Editor Jabez Olssen, Script Supervisor Victoria Sullivan and First Assistant Director Carolynne Cunningham call it home during the shoot. Cunningham is outside of the director’s tent a lot, Olssen and Sullivan less so and Producer Zane Weiner is always near. Jackson’s assistant Sebastian Meek is in and out at all times, bringing badly needed tea and watching the door from outside to eliminate distractions inside.
Jackson lives on tea and Meek has a talent for having it handy at the perfect moment.
SETTING THE SCENE
In April, 2012, as a representative of fandom via TheOneRing.net, I was invited to be on set during five weeks of the filming of the Hobbit films. At the time, it was still scheduled to be two movies and the production had just settled in to shoot in studio instead of on location. Much was unknown then, that now is completely familiar to fans.
When I first arrived at Stone Street Studios, the publicity team took me to set, showed me the ropes and left me to my own devices during the rest of my stay to meet folks and get interviews, which was great — no time and no need for babysitting.
I was there to be a good guest and to observe. Two weeks later I was definitely convinced I had no chance of talking to Peter Jackson, except for an occasional, “Hello, how are you getting on?” from him during my time there.
Fans world-wide know from production diaries, how exhausted Jackson gets during the shooting phase of filmmaking. It is important to really understand why.
Peter Jackson is a busy guy. Particularly when he is shooting, there is a lot to do in a day and a lot of people that need to understand his vision in order to do their jobs well; he is the hub of the great spinning wheel.
He is the director, a writer and a producer — each a big job on its own. Many films have one of each of those, or several of some, all working together. But Jackson was all of them at once and combining titles didn’t mean there was less work to be done. Just because he was reviewing shots didn’t mean the script didn’t need his touch or that the art department didn’t need his input or the next day’s schedule didn’t need approval. Others were partners on all of these roles but they also required Jackson.
In a day he might need to meet with the effects supervisor, set designers, concept designers, costume designers, the composer or see actual costumes for approval, or changes, to name just a few of the many things that require his time. He will confirm the schedule with his Assistant Director, producers and spend time with the Second Unit Director Andy Serkis, to make sure all is to his liking. They need sets built, greens grown, existing sets decorated, concept guys working ahead, materials guys building everything, maximizing actors’ time, feeding all of those people, screening extras, bringing in the right number of prosthetic artists for the day’s schedule of actors and extras and on and on. In short, there is never a shortage of people who need Jackson’s input to work on his vision and it takes the logistics of — dare I say — planning a battle with five armies.
In short, everything goes through Peter Jackson.
Those are the reasons “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” and his other Hobbit movies are genuinely Peter Jackson movies. It also means he is booked.
THE FINAL HOURS
And so it was, the last day of my time on The Hobbit set, after several assurances that my interview with Peter Jackson would happen — it did.
Lunch happened and on the location set of Dale, up on a hill overlooking Evans Bay to Wellington, I was invited to that nearly sacred director’s tent to sit and talk with PJ — just the two of us alone. (One editor asked me if we ate together in the tent but I don’t think so, but why many memories are crystal clear of that meeting, anything we ate or didn’t eat isn’t clear. I just have no idea.)
I had been inside before, but not often. The day I shadowed him, I spent several hours, trying to melt into the background. This was his sanctuary and office.
The winners of last month’s Hobbit Fan Contest that got to go to New Zealand and watch an in-progress cut of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,” and experience the beautiful scenes of the north and south islands and the hospitality of Air New Zealand and Tourism New Zealand, won their spots by producing short films.
As reports from the experience suggest, there was a great bonding of the 75 winners and their guests during the week-long tour of Middle-earth. These bonds are on display in a “thank you” video that the group organized to give to Peter Jackson and all the many folks who helped make the trip amazing. There is even a nod to TheOneRing.net which honestly touches us.
Turns out that crew can make a pretty great video with parts from all around the world. Their sincerity and appreciation really comes through and will make all fans proud. Enjoy! #HobbitFanContest