×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Peter Jackson and ‘Lord of the Rings’ Team Set Next Project With Universal and MRC

Peter Jackson and his “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” team have found their next pic with their long-in-development adaptation of “Mortal Engines.”

Jackson, Fran Walsh, and Philippa Boyens will co-write the film with Christian Rivers directing.

The movie is Rivers’ first major directing job, having spent the majority of his 25-year career working closely with Jackson. Rivers began as a story board artist, later moving into supervising visual effects and finally serving as splinter unit director on “The Hobbit” trilogy. Rivers won a visual efforts Academy Award for his work on the 2005 film “King Kong.” He also recently served as second unit director on the remake of “Pete’s Dragon.”

“Christian is one of my closest collaborators,” says Jackson. “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!”

Based on the novel by Philip Reeve, Jackson and Walsh have been involved with the project for several years, having optioned the rights from Scholastic in 2001. Ken Kamins – Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens’ longtime manager – brought the project to MRC.

The book is set in a world many thousands of years in the future. Earth’s cities now roam the globe on huge wheels, devouring each other in a struggle for ever diminishing resources. On one of these massive Traction Cities, Tom Natsworthy has an unexpected encounter with a mysterious young woman from the Outlands who will change the course of his life forever.

The sci-fi/fantasy movie is the first in a planned series of films based on Reeve’s novels. The series is comprised of four books: “Mortal Engines,” “Predator’s Gold,” “Infernal Devices,” and “A Darkling Plain.”

“Mortal Engines” books have won several awards including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the Smarties Gold Award, and Blue Peter Book of the Year.

Zane Weiner, Amanda Walker, and Deborah Forte are serving as producers, along with Walsh and Jackson. Kamins will executive produce. Boyens will co-produce.

This film marks the first project the three creatives have worked on together in which Jackson will not direct. It also is a return to Universal for Jackson, after he directed the “King Kong” remake for the studio.

MRC and Universal are co-financing the film. Universal will also serve as worldwide distributor. Production is slated to begin in New Zealand in spring 2017.

“Peter, Fran, Philippa and Christian are all visionary storytellers with the gift of turning their passion projects into beloved blockbusters for a worldwide audience,” said Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Pictures. “The studio is proud of our longstanding relationship with MRC and these tremendous filmmakers, and we are looking forward to collaborating on this cinematic re-imagination of Philip’s bold and fantastical novel.”

The law firm of Nelson Davis negotiated on behalf of Jackson, Walsh, Boyens, and Rivers; and Stan Coleman on behalf of Scholastic and Forte. Reeve is represented by Philippa Milnes-Smith at Lucas Alexander Whitley Ltd in the U.K.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Brett Gelman

    'Stranger Things' Star Brett Gelman Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse'

    Brett Gelman, best known for his scene-stealing roles in “Fleabag,” “Stranger Things” and “Love,” has joined Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of Tom Clancy’s “Without Remorse.” Jamie Bell and Jodie Turner-Smith are also on board. Jordan is starring as operations officer John Clark, also known as John Terrence Kelly, a former Navy SEAL who [...]

  • US director Francis Ford Coppola holds

    Francis Ford Coppola Honored With Prestigious Lumiere Prize by Thierry Fremaux, Bong Joon Ho

    Francis Ford Coppola took the stage to claim the Lumière Festival’s lifetime achievement honor, the Lumière Prize, in a stirring celebration that marked the festival’s 10th edition on Friday night in Lyon, France. The four-time Academy Award winner accepted the prize after a series of video tributes, musical performances and testimonials from family, friends and [...]

  • 'Human Capital' Sells to Vertical Entertainment,

    Liev Schreiber, Maya Hawke's 'Human Capital' Sells Rights to DirecTV, Vertical Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV have jointly acquired the North American distribution rights to “Human Capital,” an official selection of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival from director Marc Meyers. The film stars Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, and Maya Hawke. The ensemble drama follows numerous interconnected stories surrounding a hit and run, [...]

  • Robert Zemeckis

    Robert Zemeckis in Talks to Direct Live-Action 'Pinocchio' for Disney (EXCLUSIVE)

    Robert Zemeckis is in early talks to direct Disney’s live-action “Pinocchio.” Andrew Miano and Chris Weitz will produce through their company Depth of Field with Weitz penning the script. “Paddington” director Paul King had originally been tapped to direct but had to leave the project for unknown reasons at the beginning of the year. David [...]

  • Taron Egerton Elton John Rocketman Live

    Elton John and Taron Egerton Duet at 'Rocketman' Awards Season Event at the Greek Theatre

    “Rocketman” has officially launched into awards season. Paramount hosted a screening of the film with a live-performance of the score by the Hollywood Symphony Orchestra and a headlining performance by Elton John and the film’s star Taron Egerton. John and Egerton — who is in contention for best actor for his portrayal of the singer [...]

  • Quentin Tarantino (L) and US actor

    Quentin Tarantino Holds Firm, Won't Recut 'Once Upon a Time' for China

    Quentin Tarantino will not recut “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” to placate Chinese censors, Variety has confirmed. The decision likely means that the Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt buddy dramedy and ode to late sixties Tinseltown won’t be making an appearance in China — at least in non-pirated form. Tarantino previously ran afoul of [...]

  • Maleficent Mistress of Evil

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Flying Low With $35 Million Opening

    Angelina Jolie’s “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is heading for an opening weekend of about $35 million at 3,790 North American locations — significantly below forecasts, early estimates showed on Friday. The fantasy sequel should still win the domestic weekend box office handily, denying Joaquin Phoenix’s “Joker” a third consecutive victory. “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” will [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content