Where was Mortal Engines filmed? The Filming Locations and Sets

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From the filmmakers of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, this blockbuster is a large production entirely made in New Zealand by Peter Jackson and his team.

Mortal Engines is loosely based on the novel of the same name about a post-apocalyptic future of predator cities by British author Philip Reeve.

This is the first story of the Mortal Engines Quartet series of books, nicknamed The Hungry City Chronicles.

Where was Mortal Engines filmed

Screenwriter Philippa Boyens commented in this interview for Slash Film that the vision of the movie was to place it in the middle of Mad Max, Harry Potter, and Star Wars.

We would also add Hayao Miyazaki's Howl's Moving Castle, the extraordinary animated film from 2004. The novel is quite steampunk, but the producers tried to create something new and original, away from the aesthetics of this fantasy subgenre.

Mortal Engines was filmed at the studios in Wellington. Although it has very few real filming locations, we have put together some interesting details about the making of the movie in this post.

Mortal Engines Location
The Archway Islands on Wharariki Beach is an easy to recognize Kiwi landmark (they were used as Microsoft's Windows 10 default wallpaper).

They are located on the top north of the South Island, the same region where the fictional Kingdom of Lavania from The Royal Treatment Netflix movie was filmed.

In the film, this awesome environment served as the beautiful seaside setting where Pandora's home (Hester's mother) is located in Oak Island, off Britain.
(You can open all the locations on Google Maps by clicking on the links below in the captions ↴)
Image courtesy of Universal Pictures and Shellie - Map

Battle scenery
As this website about the book series suggested, there are no reports about shooting anywhere else than in the studios.

However, the production may have been filming some landscapes across New Zealand or reusing old footage from The Hobbit or LOTR movies.

The Southern Alps have plenty of stunning mountain ranges and valleys. They are suitable to be combined with digital effects to blend into the world of Mortal Engines as Shan Guo and the Shield-Wall at Batmunkh Gompa (pictured).

The Hakatere Conservation Park, the area of Mount Sunday, and the Ashburton Lakes were Edoras in The Lord of the Rings. The Mavora Lakes area was featured in The Hobbit.
Image courtesy of Universal Pictures - Map

Mortal Engines drehort
The rolling city of London is topped with St Paul's Cathedral, but we spotted other recognizable monuments like the Blenheim Palace (actually located near Oxford), mixed into the amalgam of buildings.

The small mining city of Salzhaken, chased by London, looks as if an archetypal German town like Rothenburg ob der Tauber had been converted into a Transformer.
Image courtesy of Universal Pictures and François Philipp

The City design inspiration
At the beginning of the film, there is a sequence that seems like a market day, reuniting a few minor cities.

We spotted the popular Casa Batlló from Barcelona being used as a source of inspiration for one of these cities (in the books it exists a traction city called Barcelona).

Also, there is a settlement with buildings looking similar to the architecture of the Potala Palace in Lhasa (Tibet).

It was probably used in the film to design Batmunkh Gompa, a static town situated at the gates of what was left of China and Central Asia, after the Sixty Minute War.
Image courtesy of Universal Pictures and Ikusuki - Map

The Making of
Anna Fang’s airship, the Jenny Haniver, is called to be the Millennium Falcon of the film. Mortal Engines required tons of CGI, although the producers tried to film in-camera as much as possible.

According to a report from IGN.com, around 70 set pieces were constructed for the shoot including the front of St. Paul’s cathedral, the entrance to London (with the 'London Welcomes You!' sign, that remains us the infamous Arbeit Macht Frei), and several versions of the aircraft.
Images courtesy of Universal Pictures

Where is Mortal Engines Set
Mortal Engines was shot using all the seven sound stages of the Stone Street Studios in the Miramar neighborhood in Wellington.

The filmmakers published a series of featurette videos on YouTube showing several aspects of the making of the movie, from the concept art to the job of the model makers, tailors, the FX squad, or the sound artists.
Images courtesy of Universal Pictures

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  1. This was most helpful, I always like to look up film locations 😄


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