Universal revved up Mortal Engines, its Peter Jackson-produced aspiring franchise, at New York Comic Con, premiering the fantasy epic’s new trailer and the first 24 minutes of the film.
Afterward, Jackson and longtime collaborators Philippa Boyens and Christian Rivers joined cast members for a panel discussion. Rivers, an Oscar-winner for his visual effects work on Jackson’s King Kong, is making his feature directing debut.
The Media Rights Capital-backed release, slated for December 14, “is another extraordinary exercise in world-building,” said the event’s moderator, Andy Serkis. As a longtime core member of Jackson’s core tribe (since playing the pioneering motion-capture character Gollum), Serkis has nothing to do with this project. But Jackson felt that would give him the perfect moderator perspective.
The footage shown had a propulsive, shadowy feel, showcasing a thrilling chase sequence set in a vast, dark mine. It drew hearty applause at the end, though the Hulu Theatre at Madison Square Garden was only half-full and the event did not have that explosive, frenzied Hall H-style feeling that is a signature of big reveals at San Diego Comic-Con. The turnout may be because the panel was a late addition to the Con lineup, getting firmed up at the end of last week.
While the footage’s apocalytpic flashes recalled Snowpiercer at times, Jackson clarified during the panel that it’s not technically a post-apocalypic world. “The story is set 3,000 years from now,” he said. “So it’s post-post-apocalypic.” He went on to detail the plot mechanics, which hinge on a “60-minute war” that has “cracked the surface of the world. Volcanoes burst out. The war redefines the surface of the world.”
Watch the trailer