Peter Jackson is adapting the sci-fi fantasy novel 'Mortal Engines' for the big screen.

The acclaimed filmmaker will co-write the script for the movie, based on the book by Philip Reeve and his longtime collaborator Christian Rivers is set to make his directorial debut with the project.

Peter said: ''Christian is one of my closest collaborators. The combination of emotion and jaw-dropping visuals in 'Mortal Engines' makes this the perfect movie for his move into feature directing. What Christian intends to do with Philip Reeve's terrific story is going to result in an original and spectacular movie. I wish I could see it tomorrow!''

The book is part of a series of four novels, which also includes 'Predator's Gold', 'Infernal Devices', and 'A Darkling Plain'.

It is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where cities including London are run on engines.

The protagonist of the story is a teenager called Tom Natsworthy, who joins forces with a young woman from an area known as the Outlands, to discover a mystery that could change the world they live in.

MRC and Universal are co-financing the film while Universal will also serve as worldwide distributor.

Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Pictures, said: ''Peter, Fran, Philippa and Christian are all visionary storytellers with the gift of turning their passion projects into beloved blockbusters for a worldwide audience. The studio is proud of our longstanding relationship with MRC and these tremendous filmmakers, and we are looking forward to collaborating on this cinematic re-imagination of Philip's bold and fantastical novel.''

Production is set to begin in New Zealand next year.