Given how beloved Rupert Wyatt and Matt Reeves’ Planet of the Apes trilogy is, fans may be a little wary now that a new Apes movie is in the works at Disney. But director Wes Ball is seeking to reassure fans that the series remains “in good hands” and will honor the legacy of that trilogy.
Ball teased the new Planet of the Apes movie with Discussing Film, reiterating earlier comments that the movie isn’t a reboot, but is set within the same universe as 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and its two sequels. In fact, many of the same writers and crew members from the previous movies have carried over to the Disney project.
Ball said, “We were using the same material, the same kind of technology, we were using a lot of the same people involved – I had asked Andy Serkis to join Mouse Guard [Bell’s previous film, which wound up being a casualty of the Disney/Fox merger]. So it was kind of [a] natural fit. I understand where it came from and my big thing was: what do you do for a Planet of the Apes sequel? One, those last three movies are one of the great trilogies we have in modern movie history.
They are just so well done. They honored the original movies they sprang from, the Charlton Heston movies, but they grounded it in a modern sensibility and it just worked. Caesar is one of the great movie characters that we’ll have throughout time. So what do you do to follow that up, right? At the same time, I wasn’t interested in doing a part four either. We want to also do our own thing.”
Ball elaborated on what sets the new movie apart from the Apes trilogy, saying, “We have a take. We have a way of staying in the universe that was created before us, but we’re also opening ourselves up in being able to do some really cool new stuff. … I’m trying to be careful here. I’ll say this, for fans of the original three don’t worry – you’re in good hands. The original writers and producers that came up with Rise and Dawn, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, they’re also on board with this. Josh Friedman is writing this thing, a lot of the same crew is kind of involved. We will feel like we’re part of that original trilogy, but at the same time we’re able to do some really cool new stuff. It will be really exciting to see on the biggest screen possible.”
As you might expect, Ball is unsure when exactly filming will begin given the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but he seems optimistic the film will continue taking shape in the months to come. If anything, the series’ continued reliance on motion capture and computer effects may be an asset in 2020.
“Planet of the Apes is moving forward and we have a giant art team cranking away on some incredible concept art,” Ball said. “We’ve got the screenplay continuing to move forward, that will take the time that it takes and so that’s all good. Planet of the Apes is moving forward baby! Not only that, but we could actually be in virtual production relatively soon because it’s largely a CG movie.”
It was first rumored in December that Ball would be directing a new Planet of the Apes movie. The filmmaker confirmed that news via Twitter that same day and said, “I would only do this if I felt I could offer something special while still honoring what’s come before.”
While the last Planet of the Apes movie hit theaters in 2017, the franchise has seen plenty of life elsewhere. There’s been a cinematic adventure game, “an often infuriating VR game,” and a graphic novel based on Rod Serling’s early screenplay drafts of the original movie.