The first trailer for the Mortal Engines movie was released just before Christmas. If you haven’t already seen it, you can watch it here. It’s basically a series of snippets from the opening scene of the book, with London chasing the little mining town, and it’s very strange indeed to see it on screen after all these years. Mortal Engines will be released in December 2018.
I’ve lost the will to blog lately, and don’t see it returning any time soon, but I thought it was worth marking the completion of photography on Mortal Engines. This doesn’t mean the movie is finished – post production starts now, and presumably goes on until pretty close to the release date, 14th December 2018. But it does mean that the live action has all been shot, and the cast are heading home.
I was lucky enough to be invited down to Wellington back in May to visit Stone Street Studios, where the production was based. I’ll post a full account of the trip once the movie is actually out, but I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets if I say that it was all looking very good. London was only just starting to be built when I was there, but I walked around the streets of Airhaven and Batmunkh Gompa, sat in the gondola of the Jenny Haniver, and peeked inside Mr Shrike’s house. Most of it looked very much as I’d imagined, except for the bits which looked better.
The actors were just as impressive – watching Robbie Sheehan, Hera Hilmar, Hugo Weaving and some of the other cast members at work made me realise that when actors complain that, ‘it’s SUCH hard work, dahling,’ they have a point: acting in a film like Mortal Engines means long hours and heroic feats of concentration – it can’t be easy, believably portraying intense emotions in the midst of what’s basically a busy factory, but they make it look easy. So did the director, Christian Rivers, who has the daunting job of orchestrating it all. I didnt hear any complaints, though – the cast and crew all seemed to be having a good time, which must bode well. During most of my visit a posse of aviators were busy doing their stuff in Airhaven’s top nighspot the Gasbag and Gondola. I think Anna Fang (Jihae), Captain Khora (Rege-Jean Page) and co. have a little bit more to do in the movie than they did in the book, and frankly they deserve their own spin-off movie, they’re all great.
Meanwhile, what lurked in this mysterious box in the corner of the studio? I didn’t dare to look…
I’m finally able to share some big news for fans of Mortal Engines (and indeed, writers of Mortal Engines). I’m not sure how much I can say about it at the moment, so I’m just going to leave some salient bits of the press release here.
Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies) are making the feature Mortal Engines, based on the award winning book series of the same name from British author Philip Reeve.
Jackson and Walsh have co-written the screenplay with collaborator Philippa Boyens (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies). Christian Rivers is attached to direct. Christian has spent the majority of his 25-year career working closely with Jackson, beginning as a Story Board Artist, later moving into supervising visual effects and finally serving as Splinter Unit Director on The Hobbit trilogies. Christian won an Academy Award® for his work on the 2005 film, King Kong (Best Achievement in Visual Effects). He also recently served as second unit director on the remake of Pete’s Dragon. Mortal Engines is his first project as Director.
“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!”
“’Mortal Engines’ is one of those stories that was made for the big screen,” says Rivers. “A fantastical, futuristic world that has to be seen to be believed. At its heart though, it’s a beautiful love story and a richly complex character driven adventure. To be the director who gets to bring Philip Reeve’s incredible universe to life is a dream come true.”
“I’m thrilled that Christian, Fran, Philippa and Peter are bringing my book to the screen,” said Philip Reeve. “They’ve created some of the most memorable imaginary worlds in modern cinema, so I can’t wait to experience their vision of the world of ‘Mortal Engines.’”
After a quiet time publication-wise in 2017, I’m going to be BUSY over the next twelve months. Here’s a list of all the Reeve, McIntyre and Reeve & McIntyre titles which will be released in the UK during 2018.
This is the third book in the Railhead trilogy. I wrote a bit about it here, and I’ll be writing a lot more about it as publication date draws near. I’ve really enjoyed living in Zen and Nova’s world for the past few years – in fact, I think it’s the best time I’ve had as a (solo) writer, and the best work I’ve done. I’ll be sorry to move on, but I hope Station Zero is a suitably grand and explosive way to bring the series to a conclusion. The cover illustration is by Ian Mcque.
Published by Oxford University Press, May 2018
Ian McQue is also going to be providing a cover and some interior illustrations for this book, which gathers together three short stories about Anna Fang, adding a bit of detail to the stories of her early life which are hinted at in Mortal Engines. The middle story is based on my long out-of-print World Book Day story Traction City, but I’ve re-written it to bring Anna to the centre of things – she made more of a cameo appearance in the original version. The other two are episodes from Anna’s life which never found a place in the original Mortal Engines Quartet, and which I think make good stories in their own right – I’m very much looking forward to seeing what images Ian puts with them. As there’s no artwork to show you yet, here’s a picture of Jihae, who plays Anna in the forthcoming Mortal Engines movie. (It was talking to her in Wellington last year which made me decide to do this book.)
Published by Scholastic, June 2018
The Legend of Kevin
By Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre
Work in Progress!
This is my fifth story book with splendidly-befrocked illustration legend and international celebrity hatstand Sarah McIntyre! The first four each had a different setting and central character, but The Legend of Kevin will be the start of a four book series. It seems to be set in the same world as Oliver and the Seawigs (the mermaids make a guest appearance, and those Sea Monkeys are up to mischief again) but our heroes this time are a boy called Max and a roly-poly flying pony named Kevin, who crash-lands on the balcony of Max’s flat one stormy night and decides to stay. Kevin made his first appearance in a story Sarah and I made up one Christmas here on Dartmoor. He was inspired by a plump Pegasus I painted on a bit of Brighton beach driftwood back in 1989 – little did I know where that would lead!)
Published by Oxford University Press, September 2018
When she isn’t slaving over the illustrations for our joint efforts, McIntyre is usually to be found creating picture books (Jampires and There’s A Shark In The Bath are borrowed from UK libraries more often than all the books I’ve written put together). She has two new titles coming out this year:
Dinosaur Firefighters is a follow-up to the very successful Dinosaur Police, and if you know any picture-book fans who like firefighters and/or dinosaurs, this is the book for them. Dipsy the Diploducus is desperate to join the Dinoville Fire Brigade, but is she too big and clumsy? SPOILERS: Of course she isn’t, and after a couple of comic catastrophes Dipsy finds her feet and saves the day. (I eagerly await the adventures of Dinosaur Paramedics, Dinosaur Coastguards and all the other dinosaur emergency services, but I think Sarah might feel it’s time to move on…)
Published by Scholastic, May 2018
The New Neighbours
Dinosaur Firefighters is bright, goofy, and fun, and it’s main purpose is to make small children laugh uproariously. Sarah’s other picture book this year is drawn and coloured in a slightly softer-edged, more subtle style, but it’s just as much fun and will have the same effect. It’s based around her Vern and Lettuce characters, and takes place in a tower block where each floor is home to a family of different animals. Behind all the charm and silliness and cute bunnies there is a gentle, generous, very McIntyre-ish lesson about tolerance and neighbourliness. It’s her picture book masterpiece, and it deserves to do very well indeed.
Published by David Fickling, March 2018
An Illustrated Guide to the World of Mortal Engines
(by Jeremy Levett and Philip Reeve)
With the Mortal Engines movie looming, it seemed a good opportunity to revise and expand the old Mortal Engines Codex, which had a very patchy e-book release a few years ago. Jeremy Levett knows far more about history and technology than I ever will, and he’s come up with an impressively plausible account of the centuries which separate the Fever Crumb books from the beginning of Mortal Engines, as well as lots of extra details about the cities, airships and characters who inhabit the books. There are glimpses of what the Traction era means for Australia, South America, and other bits of the world my stories never managed to encompass. And it will all be full of paintings, maps and diagrams by an illustrator (or illustrators) whose name (or names) I’ll reveal nearer the publication date.
Published by Scholastic, November 2018
These titles will be available from all good bookshops, and it should be possible to pre-order them from a few months before publication date. Page 45 in Nottingham ship internationally and stock the Reeve & McIntyre books (and if you pre-order The New Neighbours from them you get a limited edition signed bookplate).
At time of writing, Amazon UK seems only to have a US edition of Night Flights for pre-order – it has the wrong publication date and a strange price – so UK readers should be careful to wait for the UK edition to be listed. The current Amazon listing also says there are four stories, but that’s wrong: there are three.