The steampunk dystopian book series Mortal Engines never got as much traction in the States as popular as Euro-import counterparts Harry Potter or Lord of The Rings. That might be about to change - a feature film based on the books is coming out soon, produced by LOTR director and Engines super-fan Peter Jackson, but which Mortal Engines book is the movie based on?
Though the original story is told in two parts, there's been three prequels and three sequels, each following different adventures and issues among the reconstructed cities wheeling their way across the globe, devouring smaller cities and resources in their wake. In an interview with Polygon, producer Jackson was clear about his plans adopting the first Mortal Engines film. Following his (very successful) plan from Lord Of The Rings, he's doing one film for one book — confirming that the events of the first Mortal Engines movie will follow just the events of the first book.
Jackson had gotten a lot of criticism from fans and critics for spacing out shorter book The Hobbit into three movies, though he defended the choice by noting The Hobbit was looser and sketchier, while Mortal Engines author Phillip Reeve "sort of intercut between different storylines and in much the same way as we do in the film," and that not only did he feel comfortable following the book, but that it was "a dream to adapt."
Unlike the Lord Of The Rings films, where a trilogy was a done deal from the start, there's no such certainty in place with Mortal Engines. Speaking to Cinema Blend, Jackson said he hopes viewers love the film, so he has an opportunity to continue with the story. "This is one movie where I hope it's successful enough that we get to do the other stories, because the other books are really... this story mushrooms in such unexpected ways in the future books. So, I really hope we get to make those films." It also re-confirms that the first Mortal Engines film is hewing closely to the first book, which introduces characters and events to be resolved in another film.
Though you wouldn't think that were the case with a director as closely associated with successful giant epics as Jackson, The Hobbit put a dent in his credibility with some fans, and there are plenty of case studies of popular series adapted to the big screen dying after the first film. Most notably in recent times was Phillip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, which got an enormous budget, A-list adaptation in 2007, only did so-so at the box office. Along with pressure from the Catholic church against its themes, according to Variety, that effectively killed the chance for any other film adaptations. (For Mortal Remains fans currently flop-sweating, don't worry — The Golden Compass is getting new life as a BBC TV series, so there's always hope).
In the meantime, director Christian Rivers is excited to helm what will be his first feature film, and speaking with Collider about his own shadow looming large over the production, Jackson is clear that this is Rivers' series to guide — should they get to move ahead with the second film and book. "That will be up to him. He might go off and do other things. I’d like to direct. I thought I was going to direct. I’d love to direct the last one if we got that far."
Whether or not fans will get to see the second half of Mortal Remains on the big screen, there's always the book. The film comes out Dec. 14.