August 24, 2019
Imagine your hometown for a second. Now imagine your hometown’s rival town—the one you were unreasonably prejudiced against whenever high school football season rolled around. Now imagine both of those towns are on gigantic wheels, armed with weaponry, and about to face off in a BattleBots-style showdown. Are you picturing that? Because that is essentially the premise of Mortal Engines, Peter Jackson‘s post-apocalyptic sci-fi movie that is debuting on HBO tonight.
In the film, Hera Hilmar stars as Hester Shaw, a 28-year-old assassin who’s determined to avenge her mother’s death. She comes very close to achieving that goal when she nearly kills the villainous Thaddeus Valentine (played by Hugo Weaving), but she’s stopped by Tom Natsworthy (Robert Sheehan), a lowly working-class Londoner. After Tom is kicked out of the city (which, remember, is mobile), he and Hera team up in order to survive.
As you might suspect from the outlandish character names, Mortal Engines is based on a novel of the same name, written by Philip Reeve in 2001. Though Jackson did not direct the film, the Academy Award-winning filmmaker was very involved in bringing the story from page to screen. In addition to penning the script with co-writers Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, Jackson hired many of the same producers and crew he worked with on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Christian Rivers—who is better known as a visual effects supervisor—was brought on board to direct, his feature film directorial debut.
Unfortunately for Jackson and all involved, the film was a box office flop—one of the biggest flops of 2018, in fact. It takes a lot of expensive visual effects in order to get cites on wheels, and Mortal Engines made just $83.6 million at the worldwide box office on a production budget of $100 million, and, according to Deadline, lost Universal roughly $174.8 million after adding up the cost publicity campaign and more. But though not many were willing to drive to a theater to see this sci-fi epic—which had no real star power and was a story most were unfamiliar with—we have a feeling fans of Jackson, sci-fi, and steampunk alike will want to check out the film on streaming. Here’s the best way to catch Mortal Engines on HBO tonight and beyond.
Mortal Engines will make its HBO debut today—Saturday, August 24—at 8 p.m. ET. If you subscribe to HBO the cable channel, flip your TV on then! And if you live on the west coast, that’s 5 p.m. PT.
You can catch Mortal Engines on demand on either of HBO’s streaming services as soon as it airs on HBO, which, again, is Saturday, August 24 at 8 p.m. ET.