Philip Reeve's science fiction novel series 'Mortal Engines' is getting a Peter Jackson scripted and produced film version, set to debut in theatres on December 14, 2018. He will be working alongside his collaborators from 'Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit', Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, on the screenplay. Visual effects veteran Christian Rivers will be taking up the director’s chair. Previously, Jackson had intended to direct, having circled the project since 2009, but various delays caused him to vacate it. Zane Weiner, Amanda Walker (The Hobbit) and Deborah Forte will produce for WingNut Films.

What is Jackson adapting?

'Mortal Engines', the first of four books, is set thousands of years in the future, where Earth’s cities roam across the globe on gigantic wheels in a struggle for ever-diminishing resources. The novel's protagonist, Tom Natsworthy, crosses paths with a woman from the Outlands that begins the bigger adventure to change society. 'Mortal Engines' began development as far back as the late 1980s, according to Reeve, and was intended as adult fiction, but multiple rejections forced a change in target audience. The book was finally published in 2001 by Scholastic, and was shortlisted for the 2002 Whitbread Award.

Who is Jackson working with?

Rivers, for whom this will be his feature directorial debut, has had a long career with Jackson, starting with Dead Alive and Heavenly Creatures as a storyboard artist.

Later, he graduated to working in visual effects, working on all three Lord of the Rings films, as well as Jackson's King Kong remake and The Lovely Bones. He also worked for other directors, as part of Jackson's WETA Digital, such as Robert Zemeckis (Contact), Jay Russell (The Water Horse) and Sngmoo Lee (The Warrior's Way).

Universal Pictures, who co-funded with MRC, will release the Film, which will be competing against the likes of James Cameron's suspected Avatar sequel, as well as Disney's Mary Poppins sequel and the animated Spider-Man film from Sony.