I know it is too early to start this thread, it doesn't come out until December 14, 2018 and there's been nary a mention of a teaser trailer any time in the near future, but I can't help it. I will talk about it all by myself if I have to.
I have not read all of the Mortal Engines quadrilogy by Philip Reeve, but the first book is great. It does fit into the whole post-apocalyptic YA novel genre that we have now (but predates all the popular ones, Reeve wrote this back in 2001), but unlike a lot of those it's an intensely clever, British kind of lit that has as much wit and imagination as it does a bleak sort of edge. It's basically British steampunk but with all kinds of desolation surrounding the roving urban centers. And it does have a very bleak edge underneath all the wry humory and mordant whimsy (reminds of Terry Gilliam and something like Brazil). The world is essentially dying and at odds with itself and man do a lot of people and characters die, just in the first book alone.
Reeve came up with this idea for "Municipal Darwinism," which rises after the "Sixty-Minute War" basically leaves the earth scorched and all the earth's town and cities have become mobile behemoths in order to survive, scavenging for resources. And the bigger/stronger cities prey on the weaker/smaller ones. This sounds like the makings of a story that would be equal parts ridiculous and dour, but the narrative that Reeve puts together is very colorful and engaging while maintaining an impressive sense of high drama and stakes. Kind of a perfect fit for Peter Jackson production! As long as it's not 3 hours long!
PJ's long-time storyboard/previz/FX/splinter unit director Christian Rivers (said to be largely responsible for the dwarf barrel scene, which I loved, and who was also second unit director on Pete's Dragon) is making his full-length directorial debut. Peter Jackson wrote and is co-producing with his frequent collaborators, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens.
It's a $100 million budget, which may not seem like quite enough to anyone who has read the book, but I think they will be able to make it stretch given that they shot in NZ and they're probably getting "the family rate" on the visual effects from Weta Digital (and I'm sure Rivers' FX background helped in how they executed during production). It's being financed the same way The Dark Tower was, a co-venture between Universal and MRC. I imagine the studios will try to be as smart and efficient as possible about marketing the thing. There are no big name actors in the film and the property is not that highly recognized outside of the UK, so they need to get the word out without spending a ton of money on doing so. And they won't have the benefit of throwing a name like Stephen King's in their ads (not that that helped them all that much with The Dark Tower).
Anyways, after the disappointment of The Hobbit (which I was somewhat on-board with until the final movie made it abundantly clear that all the bloat had been a giant waste of time--and then threw more bloat on top of that... ALFRID, ugh) I am excited to see a Peter Jackson team tackling a lesser known and extremely quirky property with less franchise pressures and that is more befitting the approach they might bring to it. I am also somewhat excited about just the fact that they ARE on a budget. They got to do whatever they wanted with The Hobbit, and it showed, unfortunately. Sometimes limitations and constraints are a good thing, and I think Christian has the tools to execute this type of movie with the kind of experienced and talented crew that Peter Jackson can put around him.
I am also really quite excited about this cast, the casting team were very inspired in how they approached this. It is a very low-key cast, and I think there will be some discoveries here for a lot of people. No doubt this helped keep the cost down, but I also think it is appropriate for the type of movie being made. It can't and shouldn't be a star vehicle (it is just going to present some challenges for the marketing team, to be sure). Hugo Weaving is the most recognizable name, and his role is a big one and a great one. I can't wait to see him as Thaddeus Valentine. The actual protagonist of the books, Tom Natsworthy, will be played by Robert Sheehan (who you can see most recently in GEOSTORM), and it's really an inspired choice. A very interesting looking fellow, handsome in a weird way, with a strong screen presence. He's had a good amount of experience acting from assorted indie films and British TV. Oh, and GEOSTORM, of course. Check him out in Season 2 of Fortitude, he's fantastic. I think his career will blow up a tad after this movie comes out. And then Hera Hilmar will be the other main character as the bitter and maimed Hester Shaw, a GREAT character, probably the favorite character for readers of the books... and Hera was another incredibly inspired casting pick by the producers and casting team. She is really, really quite good (and like Sheehan has a lot of experience from indies and TV), and I think also brings the right type of physical presence to the character. There has to be something almost magnetic about Hester at the same time that she's not exactly pretty (especially not after the make-up artists are done with her). The international, multi-ethnic cast is filled with good, interesting picks, though: Jihae as rogue airship pilot Anna Fang, Patrick Malahide as the dryly sinister Magnus Crome, the venerable Colin Salmon as blustery historian Chudleigh Pomeroy, Ronan Raftery, Rege-Jean Page, Kee Chan, Frankie Adams, Caren Pistorius, Menik Gooneratne, Sarah Peirse, Kahn West, Yoson An... and Stephen Lang as a decrepit, ruthless cyborg named Shrike. Which, really, is the perfect role for Stephen Lang. But yeah, it's definitely going to be one of those movies where you'll be like "I don't know this person's name but I've seen them before in something and they're surprisingly good!"
Uh, yeah, so clearly... I'm excited. And will return to this thread six months or whatever from now to link the first trailer, lol.
Here's the first piece of concept art from the film: