Mortal Engines director Christian Rivers has signed on to direct Into The Thin Air, a drama that explores the unsolved mystery behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The film will weave a narrative around the tragedy, following the efforts of a rogue investigator with a tragic past who teams up with an idealistic young journalist.
Together, they uncover a corruption soaked conspiracy that spans between the men with their hands upon the wheel of power, and a lone pilot who vanished with a plane full of 227 passengers and 12 flight crew members in 2014. The plane disappeared after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur International Airport to its destination, Beijing Capital International Airport.
Rivers is an Oscar-winning effects artist who has worked closely with Peter Jackson on films such as The Lord Of The Rings and King Kong. However, his Jackson-produced directorial debut Mortal Engines became – and this isn’t hyperbole – the biggest box office bomb of all time.
The 2018 film cost approximately $150 million (not including marketing) and grossed a mere $83.7 million worldwide, losing Universal an estimated $174 million. That is officially the most money a studio has ever lost on a project, whether adjusted for inflation or not.
Now the failure wasn’t entirely Rivers’ fault, but it is curious that he’s getting another gig so soon after. Considering the well-documented sexism of Hollywood, one wonders that if a woman had directed Mortal Engines, she would likely never work in the industry again. It’s hard to wrestle with why exactly Rivers is getting this opportunity over other filmmakers.
Rivers himself said of the project: “I couldn’t be more excited to bring this story to the screen. In this modern age of technology and instant information there are very few mysteries of this kind. But at its heart it’s a human story of a man, trying to move past his own loss and find answers for those who are still suffering”.
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is obviously both fascinating and saddening. We’ll see if Into The Thin Air does the true story justice or – and here’s the fear – the tragedy is merely mined for an entertaining fake conspiracy.