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After breaking up The Hobbit, Peter Jackson is keeping Mortal Engines as one movie

Lord of the Rings director on why he’s returned to the one-movie-per-book format

Mortal Engines actress Hera Hilmar Universal Pictures
Russ Frushtick is the director of special projects, and he has been covering the world of video games and technology for over 15 years. He co-founded Polygon in 2012.

Peter Jackson’s next project, Mortal Engines, is based on a fantasy book series with a number of sequels and prequels. It’s certainly well-trodden ground for Jackson, who lived and breathed the work of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings for more than a decade. But with The Hobbit films, Jackson saw criticism in deciding to break up the relatively-short children’s book into three massive movies, befuddling some fans and critics.

With Mortal Engines, though, he’s returning to the format that was so successful with The the Rings trilogy: one book for one movie. The first movie in the series will only cover the events of the first book, no more, no less.

Speaking with Polygon, Jackson explained the decision of why it made more sense to stick to this format than it did with The Hobbit.

“[With] The Hobbit we just had the story to tell and that’s the way we told it,” said Jackson. “The Hobbit was a very sketchy novel that rushes through the storyline. That’s why it’s a fantastic novel to read to your kids at night because it just rips through. But to actually pause and develop some psychology with the characters and develop some depths, some character depths, we just needed more time.”

Jackson said Mortal Engines is a different situation, though.

“[Mortal Engines] has a really good structure. I mean Philip Reeve, who’s the author, you know, he writes the books in a very cinematic way. He sort of intercut between different storylines and in much the same way as we do in the film. He’s almost writes them as a treatment of a film. I mean, they’re novels, they’re fully fledged novels, but you can feel his cinematic sensibility as he, as he structures these stories. So they’re a dream to adapt.”

Jackson went on to confirm that, unlike both of his Lord of the Rings films, Mortal Engines will have to wait and see about potential sequels.

“As for whether we go ahead or not with the others, it’s not in our hands,” said Jackson. All we can do is to make the very best film for Mortal Engines that we can. And I’m certainly confident that we’ve done that. I don’t know how we could made anything better than to be made to be honest, you know, based on that book. So we’ve done our job and now it’s really a case of making the film and seeing the audiences show up.”

Mortal Engines arrives to theaters on Dec. 14, 2018

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