The Mortal Engines Movie

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.

Mortal Engines

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 DragonMortal 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.’”

Exciting times! The movie is scheduled for release on 18th December 2018. You can read Peter Jackson’s Facebook post about it here.


  1. Tom Gray
    Oct 24, 2016 @ 23:00:00

    I have read many books over the years but Mortal Engines and it’s sequels remain my favourite. At 25 years old I am unashamed to admit that A Darkling Plain still reduces me to tears. To know that a film is to be made of this book is extremely exciting and in such skilled hands aswell. I await the movie with baited breath.


  2. John Haines
    Oct 24, 2016 @ 23:12:40

    Cheers are going up in our house as if it was a football match! Brilliant news! Really stonkingly brilliant news!


  3. Tim
    Oct 24, 2016 @ 23:21:36

    WOW!!! Congratulations! Unbelievably excited, as I’m sure you are. Can’t wait for more news 🙂


  4. Angus
    Oct 24, 2016 @ 23:38:17

    Yes! I’m so glad it’s still happening! I was worried after so long with no news it had been consigned to the broom cupboard. Cannot wait!!


  5. Candy Gourlay
    Oct 24, 2016 @ 23:46:04

    I can’t wait!!!!


  6. Amp
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 05:53:22

    Awesome news. I’m so looking forward to seeing traction cities on the big screen!


  7. Josh
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 06:26:38

    I really hope he does the full series!


  8. Jamie McKAY-HAYNES
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 07:27:01

    OOOOh! A certain Walthamstow family will be very, very excited to hear about this….


  9. L
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 07:34:44

    I can’t wait to experience this as a movie and I especially can’t wait for more people to explore the world of Mortal Engines! I AM INCREDIBLY EXCITED!


  10. Casey
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 09:31:17

    Omg!! I’m so excited, I’ve been awaiting this day for so long!


  11. Paul
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 11:43:04

    Our household can’t wait. What incredible news!


  12. LeMarchand
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 12:37:45

    Yay! I thought this was permanently stuck in Development Hell! Hopefully we might see some movement on Railhead and Larklight too.

    My main worries are that PJ & co seem overly fond of slapstick sequences and that the money men will demand Hester is played by the hot teenage actress du jour without suitable prosthetics.

    I really hope this does the book justice and leads to the whole series being filmed, plus lots of extra book sales and well-deserved recognition for you.


  13. Phil
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 13:14:31

    Excellent news! This not-so-young adult will happily re-read the book he enjoyed so much first time around.


  14. Lucie Shaw
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 16:08:39

    I have been dreaming about this film and playing Hester ever since I read the books, and as an acting student in her last year am intensely gutted that I don’t yet have an agent to yell at until they get me an audition. I hope it’s as good an adaptation as everyone hopes it will be, and I hope it leads everyone to read the books because they are so damn good I may cry.


  15. Gary Manning
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 16:13:08

    Brilliant Philip!. You know what fans we have been of your books. I have read the 1st four books twice and I am just about to read them again and am shortly to become a pensioner. Teenage fiction? No way, they cut across the whole children – adults fiction requirements which is what makes them so clever in their inception. Peter and Fran have the ability to translate these to the big screen and you deserve this to happen. See you soon. Gary UK-Bookworm


  16. Sam Cooke
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 22:01:03

    This is wonderful!


  17. Gustavo Fernandes
    Oct 25, 2016 @ 23:41:03

    “Nao estou Acreditando nestas maravilhosa notícia”😍😍
    Quero os outros livros da saga mas o Brasil está desfavorecido com as Maravilhas de Reeve… 😞

    “I’m Not Believing this wonderful news” 😍😍 I want the other books of the saga but Brazil is disadvantaged with Wonderland Reeve … 😞


  18. Pam worthington
    Oct 26, 2016 @ 20:47:01

    Great news and an ideal director for such a brilliant book. I am another not so young adult who came apon Mortal Engines as a talking book read by Kenneth Branagh and was hooked! I have since read and loved all the sequels. I will be very interested to find out who the actors will be.


  19. Kira
    Oct 28, 2016 @ 12:31:56

    Yaaaaaay. I’m so glad it’s finally being done. I adore Mortal Engines, it is my favourite book. This will be amazing. Well done.


  20. Ben
    Oct 28, 2016 @ 18:52:11

    Great timing! After about 3-4 years’ reading to them in the evening (the wee ‘uns live with their mother, so reading only every second weekend), the kids and I finally got to the end of Darkling Plain a couple of weeks ago. All cried like a burst main, even me – and it was my second time! All are now very excited at seeing if the movie(s) can even come close…!


  21. Lisa Brennan
    Dec 11, 2016 @ 19:06:04

    Exciting news! My middle school readers will be thrilled !


  22. nicholas demaio
    Mar 15, 2017 @ 22:48:48

    I cant wait such an underrated story my favorite


  23. Iñigo Romon Alonso
    Mar 19, 2017 @ 16:34:32

    I won’t miss that film.
    I writhe this to thank you for a small mercy: in one of the books of the series you describe one of the main characters going to pray to what for me looked a small christian chapel decorated with small crosses. In this time when everybody seems to think pertinent to despise chritianism or even religious faith, this was a welcome change. Not that I want to hinder people from showing their true beliefs (or non- beliefs), but being a christian, I found it moving, thinking that at least in fiction people could still seek for and get relief and sense of life in Faith. So thanks a lot.


    • Philip Reeve
      Mar 19, 2017 @ 18:28:02

      Thanks! I’m not religious myself – I’m an atheist – but there’s a recurring image in the books of people visiting temples and drawing courage from them – I’m not sure where it comes from. In the first two books the temples are silly and the gods made up, but Oenone Z’s faith needed to be tackled more seriously so I made her Christian, the only religion I know well enough to write about. (I don’t I managed to make her a very convincing Christian, though, she’s more a sort of vague deist.) It’s an element I’d probably leave out if I were writing those books now – it looks too much like I’m taking a side in the culture wars, which I didn’t even know were raging back in those innocent, pre-internet days. There’s also a reference to a T.S.Eliot poem (‘the moment of the rose and the moment of the yew tree…’ which I saw quoted in an artwork in Salisbury cathedral and found very moving.


  24. Anonymous
    Apr 17, 2017 @ 09:56:16

    I’m so glad that this is going to happen! I hope they stay loyal to the books, because I’ve seen too many film adaptations that were so different. My brother read Mortal Engines a couple of years ago, so I decided to pick up the first one from his room a month or two ago. Now I’m roughly a quarter through Scrivener’s Moon and glad that I won’t finish with the series, thanks to the movie.


    • Philip Reeve
      Apr 17, 2017 @ 10:28:55

      Hi Theo! Glad you’re enjoying the books. I wouldn’t worry too much about the films being different – often I think the best adaptations are the ones which stay true to the spirit of the book rather than following the plot exactly. I’m excited to see what they do with Mortal Engines!


  25. Angelo Ventura
    May 19, 2017 @ 23:41:43

    Loved your Railhead! It’s moving, original and a beautiful blend of science and fantasy! If iou want, look at the image it inspired me!


    • Philip Reeve
      May 23, 2017 @ 10:46:47

      Thanks, Angelo – glad you liked it! And that’s a great image.


  26. Paul Rudnicki
    Jun 20, 2017 @ 04:48:57

    I was fortunate to discover these books years ago through my small American middle school library and a librarian with excellent taste. They filled a desire I didn’t know I had for serious, dark, thrilling “teen” fiction. Over the years, I’ve returned to them often and hooked as many friends as possible, just to have people to share my love of this world and the characters that live in it. I’m thrilled to see the film adaptation finally moving forward, if only because it will bring the series more into the US mainstream. I hope that the film will maintain the quality of the books, but either way, my dog-eared copy of Mortal Engines will be as perfect as it was the first time I cracked open its cover.


  27. Eleanor
    Jun 25, 2017 @ 03:21:56

    I’m very much looking forward to this film, both the Larklight series and Mortal Engines series were very important for me when i was younger, and i still love their universes. Incidentally, have you seen this project before?, I have personally been following it for few years now and would love to know what your thoughts on it are at its current stage.


    • Philip Reeve
      Jan 28, 2018 @ 09:22:15

      ooh, I hadn’t seen that Lego project. It looks great! The Traction City is a bit motte regular than I’d imagined them – I think they cram new buildings in wherever they’ll fit rather than laying them out on a grid pattern – but I love seeing other people’s visions of them.


  28. Ben Adams
    Jun 26, 2017 @ 07:03:33

    Dear Mr. Reeve,
    It is with great pleasure I write to you because I have just finished reading Black Light Express. It is not the first book I have read by you and it certainly won’t be the last. I am such a huge fan of yours. Every time I finish one of your books I, without thinking, exclaim “Absolutely wonderful book!” Even if I am on a packed train (which is what happened this evening!) I currently reside in Chicago and one day hope to be a produced screenwriter. You have been a huge influence on me. Your clear and imaginative voice is something to be envied. I wanted to write you a handwritten letter to thank you for your wonderful stories but I understand that might be out of the question. So I shall do it here: Thank you very much for the story. Books like Railhead and Mortal Engines give me so much and I am deeply indebted to you. I very much looking forward to your next installment of Railhead.

    With the greatest respect,
    Ben Adams.


    • Philip Reeve
      Jan 28, 2018 @ 09:18:36

      Thanks, Ben! Sorry, I only just saw this comment. I’m very glad you like the books. Good luck with the screenwriting!


  29. jules lawrence
    Dec 02, 2017 @ 11:49:31

    Having given copies of the quartet to as many of my friends as I thought might be interested (that’s quite a few) we’ve spent the last few months playing the casting game with Mortal Engines- “who would we like to see play…”.


  30. Luca Faithfull
    Dec 23, 2017 @ 17:48:18

    I love that is coming to life, can i ask why that Hester has two eyes and no scar, wouldn’t that change her emotions and their for action such as revenge on Valentine and distrust of Tom at the start.


    • Philip Reeve
      Dec 28, 2017 @ 18:45:03

      She doesn’t have to have one eye, but she does need a significant scar – I’m hoping she has one under the scarf!


  31. Michael Harlan
    Jan 28, 2018 @ 05:36:03

    I read this series many years ago, but had forgotten the titles for more years than I care to admit; I could only remember there was this one book with a steampunk vibe and amazing mobile cities that ran around eating each other. A year ago, I was finally able to remember (thanks Google!) and reread the entire series, and found the prequels and read those as well. Just as good a second time around (and third, and fourth…). Saw the teaser just the other day, and I’ve got to say I am equal parts ecstatic and perturbed. As an avid reader, I rarely see a movie without reading the book first, and more often than not I am disappointed. This movie has a lot going for it though, so I am hopeful 🙂


    • Philip Reeve
      Jan 28, 2018 @ 09:16:51

      Thanks Michael! I think the trick to approaching movies of books you like (or books you wrote) is to remember that the movie isn’t the book, it’s a completely new piece of work inspired by the book. I avoided the Lord of the Rings movies and Master & Commander for years because I love the books they’re based on and was afraid they’d change all sorts of things. And, when I finally watched them, they did – but they were still good films in their own right. In fact, films that do just follow the book are often more disappointing. Like the first Harry Potter film – that’s three hours I’m never getting back :-/


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