Making the Mortal Engines Movie

News, views, quotes and trivia about Philip Reeve's 'Mortal Engines' books and the Peter Jackson movie production.

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Richard Armitage nearly had a Mortal Engines acting gig

richard armitage

In an interview with Den of Geek about his role in Ocean's Eight, Richard 'Oakenshield' Armitage noted that he almost had a part in Christian River's Mortal Engines.

He said:

"I was very close to working with Peter and Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh this year on Christian Rivers' latest movie, but I couldn't quite make it work, because of 'Berlin Station'.

And what is Berlin Station

It's the television show Armitage is starring in that features him as a CIA agent.

The three time The Hobbit actor also said:

"But I know that I'll work with them again in the future and I'll be back in New Zealand at some point, so 'The Hobbit' has left such a legacy with me, that it's sort of a little beating heart that I'll always be grateful for."

Which is all nice and polite eh?

We wonder what role he could have been up for? Shrike perhaps? Maybe even a perhaps older Tom Natsworthy? A smaller role?

Friday, November 3, 2017

Why is there no hype for the Mortal Engines movie?


You might recall the day when Peter Jackson announced to the world that his new film project was a film called Mortal Engines based on a book of the same name.

This was kind of a big deal as when Mr Jackson speaks, the world listens.

And when Jackson released some concept art of Hester Shaw staring into the distance at a giant traction city the picture when around the world so fast.

And since then, nothing from the Oscar winner.

Sure, when the film wrapped up the crew let lose with a few insights (carefully permitted by the production, we're sure).

But other than that, the only person flying the flag that has a direct connection to the film, is Philip Reeve, the author of the book and the three prequels and three sequels! To be fair, Stephan Lang has chipped in a bit!

So why has there been no real hype for the movie to date?

Well, for a start the release date is not until December 2018. That's a whole other 14 odd months away. So given that Mortal Engines is a new movie "IP" (Intellectual Property) there's not already a built in fan base waiting another sequel such as they might for a new Avengers film or say The Last Jedi. 

Sure, there's a book fan base that's staunch and true but it just doesn't have the critical mass for the movie to be in the public consciousness such as Star Wars or Star Trek does.

So what Jackson and the producers and film distributors will likely do is sit back until next year (once both  The Last Jedi and Han Solo films have been and gone this December and next year!)  and patiently wait until the timing is right to release the first trailer.

That first trailer will be CRUCIAL because ME is a new IP. Purely by virtue of being a Peter Jackson produced film, that trailer will get a MASSIVE push and Jackson's name will be used a lot.

It will be the hook on which the whole movie will then be based on leading to what will likely be a huge budget film promotion.

But to make the trailer, the special effects need to be done. Keen observers might have noted that the entire movie appears to have been filmed in the sound stages that Jackson has built up in Mirimar, Wellington. I've seen no reports of any other filming around NZ. Sure there may be some second unit filming of some mountain passages across NZ (or recycled / unused captures from Hobbit and LOTR productions?) but given the nature of the film, no trailer is going to released until there's enough CGI effects in place for the trailer to be released.

Where's film franchises led by Marvel and DC often release teaser trailers to built hype, I suspect that given the need for the hook to truly snag movie goers, that a trailer of several minutes length will be released.

I'd be surprised if we heard even a peep from Christian Rivers or Peter Jackson until then. 

Until then, go give the book a second read!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Peter Jackson registered a company called 'Squeaky Wheels' in 2008!

mortal engines whale in the library

What is the production company "Squeaky Wheels"?


A short while ago we speculated that the filming or 'working' title of Mortal Engines was "Squeaky Wheels'. This was due to the email address used as part of the call for auditions.

You know how sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees?

Peter Jackson incorporated a company called 'Squeaky Wheels Limited' with the New Zealand Companies Office in 2008!

This kind of makes sense as we'd heard Jackson brought the rights from Philip Reeve to make his Mortal Engines feature film about a decade ago.

The reason for the delay in production was probably several for several reasons. Jackson and Christian Rivers had been developing a remake of The Dambusters movie (indeed Stephen Fry had a crack at a script). There was also the saga of the Hobbit production which was delayed due to Hollywood politics.

That meant Guillermo del Toro had to drop out of directing the first Hobbit movie. At that time there were two intend movies to be made. Jackson picked up the mantle and eventually directed the three Hobbit movies.

So we can be pretty sure the working title of Mortal Engines is indeed Squeaky Wheels. Pretty obvious when you look in the right place!

Any ways, back to my little discovery.

Squeaky Wheels Limited is a limited liability company which is wholly owned by WINGNUT FILMS PRODUCTIONS LIMITED. This company is of course owned by Peter and Fran Jackson. If you were wondering about the name Micheal Stephens being listed as a director and shareholder, you should know that he is the Jackson's lawyer.

I presume the idea here then is that the company is used to produce the movie and that if any thing goes wrong (earthquake destroys Wellington, debts are not repaid, Jackson is sued for non-performance of a contract etc) the liability is only that of the formed company and does not extended to Wingnut Films Production. It would actually seem that Jackson has this mode of operation as a standard practice as I found companies that go back as far back as The Frighteners!

It would seem this a sensible commercial arrangement and one I'm sure happens a lot in Hollywood - indeed I think for The Force Awakens movie, JJ Abrams created Foodles - which was actually fined by the British Court due to its involvement in Harrison Food's injury - which was a workplace safety issue.

Of further interest, Christian Rivers incorporated RIVS Films Limited a month after the Mortal Engines project was announced.

All this is pretty standard and no big deal. Actually the most interesting thing I discovered the Peter Jackson's middle name is Robert!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

How to get the new audiobook of Mortal Engines free!

Philip Reeve has announced to the world that actor Barnaby Edwards has redone the audio for Mortal Engines and that it's now available for download at Audible, Amazon's narrated book service!

You might know Barnday as a Dalek from Doctor Who?

The best news is that if you are a first time user of Audible you can download the novel for free!

That's right, if you've never read the book or want to listen to it on your commute, Barnaby Edwards has you covered!

If you're very new to the world of Mortal Engines, the first novel by Phillip Reeve is the place to start the tale:

'Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands.

Soon, London will feed.

In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage - and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.'

And so begins one of the greatest science fiction tales told.

A perfect book for Young Adults, but like Harry Potter, this book has an appeal to adults of all ages, if you need some encouragement, check out our book review.

When you sign up for Audible you actually get your first two ebooks for free! Have at it, because 'movement is life'!



Sunday, October 29, 2017

IV with Philip Reeve about Mortal Engines

traction city of london

Robert Sheehan Fan Club site, The Sheehab has managed to score an interview with the writer of Mortal Engines, the fantastic Mr Philip Reeve. 


This interview gives two insights - some of the behind the scenes stuff for the movie (though minimal) but it also highlights the warmth and sincerity that is a clear part of Mr Reeve.

I'd love to have a cup of tea with him!

Here's some key parts from the interview which relate to the movie and Reeve's thoughts.

Which are you most looking forward to seeing on the big screen?


I was shown some of the concept art a while back, and there’s all sorts of stuff I can’t wait to see.

Apart from the huge things, like the cities and the Shield wall, I’m looking forward to seeing what the airship Jenny Haniver looks like - it becomes the nearest thing the main characters have to a home once their adventures begin, so I spent a lot of time aboard it in my imagination.

Will Tom’s age be advanced for the film to match Robert’s or will Robert will be made to look younger, closer to Tom’s?


You mustn’t take anything I say about the movie as gospel truth, because I’m not directly involved with it, but I think movie-Tom will be older than book-Tom.

That’s fine by me, because when I first wrote Mortal Engines, Tom was in his early twenties, and I only made him a teenager when I realised I could publish it as a children’s book.

It actually makes very little difference to the character, because London is a rather old-fashioned society where young men have to do as they’re told and respect their elders and betters.

Did you ever imagine a dream cast and are you pleased with the casting choices?


I sometimes toyed with a fantasy cast while I was writing, but that was so long ago that most of the actors I had in mind have grown too old or even died by now!

But I think one of the things that Peter Jackson and his team are really good at is casting - the Lord of the Rings movies are full of actors who I’d never have thought of putting in those roles, but who turn out to be just right - so I’m confident they’ll find the right people.

I’m very pleased with all the actors who’ve been announced so far, and looking forward to learning who else will be involved.

What was your first reaction when you knew that your book would be produced by Peter Jackson?


A massive YAY!

It was unbelievable, really. And then nothing happened for years and years, so I had to assume that it wasn’t going ahead, and I sort of forgot about it and got busy doing other things.

Then about a year ago I heard the movie was finally going into production, and people in New Zealand were going to be busy building all these things I’d dreamed up twenty years ago. It still feels quite unreal. I won’t fully believe it until I can see it at the cinema, and perhaps not even then.

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We love that because Jackson option the novels so long ago that Reeves kind of just moved on and then one day boom! the movie is in production, indeed now in post.

Image by the talented Rebecca Wright.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Hester Shaw fan art - she's all killer and no filler

hester shaw fan art

Cherry_draws posted this great fan art sketch of Hester Shaw as they were inspired by a reading of Mortal Engines.

Some thing about that right eye is quite disturbing and really captures some of that 'intent' Hester has before she goes off and kills a few people...

Monday, October 23, 2017

We're one year old!

shrike attack gasbag and gondola fan art

It's our one year anniversary as a website!

Or you could say it's our birthday.

One year of wistfully waiting for a movie based on a book that I had never heard of until Peter Jackson announced his protege Christian Rivers would be directing a movie about giant cities that roamed a scorched Earth eating each other.

I was in.

And so naturally I had to read the book.

And I was in x 2

And then I read the rest of the books and now I suspect this website has become more about the books than the movie!

Wait till that trailer though eh? Next year perhaps? Any thing released now till Christmas is probably going to get lost in the hype of The Last Jedi coming out.

We've covered a boat load of ground in a year and made some friends on Twitter and Facebook which has been great. Hey you lurkers, come and say hello!

I also suspect we are the only dedicated Mortal Engines website out there - except for a few wiki and of course, the Ministry of Truth himself, Mr Philip Reeve.

Here's some of our more popular posts over the year.



Fan art by the talented Peter Yea.