When Pierre Boulle first wrote the novel Planet of the Apes in 1963, he had no inkling it would spawn a series of films that would stretch on into the 21st century. The 1968 film—starring Charlton Heston, written by Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, and directed by Franklin J. Schaffner (Patton, the Boys from Brazil)—has become a sci-fi classic. Originally meant to be a stand-alone film, it was so successful, and Serling’s clever ending (which wasn’t in the book) added an extra layer of potential mythos to the story, that 20th Century Fox decided to squeeze four sequels out of the concept, as well as a short-lived TV series.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and the rebooted ‘Apes’ franchise is pleasing both new fans, as well as people who enjoyed the original film series. People of this generation seem to respond as well to the concept of a planet of apes as filmgoers did in the 1960s/70s. So where to the filmmakers go from here, in order to keep the franchise popular?
Some people have assumed that a revamp of the first Planet of the Apes would be next. After all, the original idea for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes envisioned by Rupert Wyatt, had the series make a giant leap forward in time from the end of Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes to a time midway between what we’d seen in Rise and the Ape-ruled era we expect to eventually see, based on the original story. Apparently a draft of the script was written that would have seen the apes in a more evolved point in their history. Instead, when Matt Reeves took over, he chose to slow things down and focus more on the story of Caesar, rather than the apes in general. Andy Serkis, who plays Caesar, explains Reeve’s approach. “Matt wanted to linger in Caesar’s journey a lot longer that perhaps it could have gone. He wanted to make it a Caesar-centric story and reach a point where it was still early enough to see the apes evolving. That was a crucial place that Matt dropped anchor and made the film that he wanted to make.”
Will the modern franchise ultimately lead to a remake of the 1968 film? The Icarus launch and the missing astronauts where added into Rise for a reason. Screenwriter Mark Bomback, who worked on the script to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, admits he was quite happy with that reference in Rise,and Reeves himself has spoken about how the new series will connect to the 1968 version.
Matt Reeves and Mark Bomback will write the next film together, and they have a definite plan. Reeves is not rushing to get to the point of the classic film. Reeves explains; “I think some people assume that we’re going to get back to the ’68 film, like, next. And actually… no. To me, the cool thing – people have asked me, ‘Isn’t it boring, because you know how it’s going to end?’ And I say that’s the best part about it. This world is nothing like that world. How do we get from here to there? Instead of being a story about ‘what,’ it becomes a story about how and why, which is all about character. And if this is Caesar’s story, and the story of the mythic character that he becomes, then as we know in the Apes timeline, Caesars begat other Caesars, and it’s a generational story. This is an epic journey toward the trajectory of that story! It could be many movies. I think there are a lot of interesting stories that come, not only from Caesar, but from what comes after Caesar, his children, and his children’s children. What happens when humans return? All of those stories… it’s so rich. And I think that it’s so cool that we know how it ends without knowing how we get there. Because that becomes the fuel for these stories. So it’s not going to be next, for sure. We are going to take a while to get there.”
Do you want to see a remake of the Planet of the Apes?