When we think about big iconic franchises, Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Jurassic series, Fast and Furious, James Bond and so on come to our minds. But the ‘Planet of the Apes’ franchise is not one to be forgotten. It’s one of the oldest running franchises and the overall quality of the series in terms of cinematic vision is better than most. The series so far has nine movies in it and barring one or two mishits, most of them have been really good.
It all started with Franklin J. Schaffner’s ‘Planet of the Apes’ back in 1968. The movie was pitched cautiously but made almost four times the money for the studio. Its success gave way to a 5-part original series that lasted until 1973. After a gap of a few years, ‘Apes’ was expected to return to the big screen, which eventually happened in Tim Burton‘s ‘Planet of the Apes’ in 2001. The movie’s pre-production development is now a legend of sorts.
As it turned out, the events surrounding the movie was more interesting than the movie itself and Burton didn’t return to continue Fox’s planned revival. But the series got a breath of fresh air in 2013. An excellent Andy Serkis played Caesar, the advanced ape in the new trilogy. All three movies received critical praise and according to Box Office Mojo, collected more than 1.5 billion dollars together.
It has already been 2 long years since ‘War of the Planet of the Apes’ released in theatre, so our demand for another ‘Apes’ movie is growing louder than ever. No matter how the trilogy ended, there can not be enough of ‘Apes’ movies for the fans. After Disney’s acquisition of Fox properties, including ‘Apes’ franchise, things have only gotten more exciting. So let’s look at everything there’s to know about the upcoming ‘Planet of the Apes’ movie. But for that, we have to go back to the past and see how things have shaped throughout the years.
Planet of the Apes Throughout the Years
The original ‘Planet of the Apes’ released in 1968 on a shoestring budget. Due to its budgetary constraints, the script was altered a lot to comply with expectations. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the movie was compelled to focus on the story and the development of characters. Astronaut George Taylor, played by Heston, travels to a detached planet where an advanced race of Apes dominates the planet. The movie ended with one of the most iconic shots in history as Taylor finds himself looking at the Statue of Liberty realizing that the planet was familiar to him all along.
The second one came out in 1970, titled ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’. The movie, as the title suggests, follows the events of the first one into a subterranean premise. It was panned by critics but nonetheless was a commercial success. The third one, ‘Escape from the Planet of the Apes’ came out in 1971 and was a great entry to the series after the disappointing ‘Beneath’. It centered around contemporary New York and was a more grounded take that dealt heavily with racial issues. ‘Conquest of the Planet of the Apes’ released in 1972 and introduced Caesar as Cornelius’ son. Following the events of ‘Escape’, Caesar leads a rebellion to free his kind from slavery. The original series ended with ‘Battle for the Planet of the Apes’ in 1973 as the racial conflicts and other serious tones were mixed with a rather optimistic and an ambiguous ending.
As I have mentioned before, the Tim Burton remake was a dumpster fire, mainly because of the things that went on behind the camera. After that movie, Fox’s plans for a remake series also washed away — until Rupert Wyatt came in 2011. The intended ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ also went through some development crisis until Andy Serkis and James Franco were finalized. The movie located the origin of Caesar in a more realistic tone. Due to advanced experiments on genetic breeding, Caesar achieves liberated consciousness. After being captivated briefly, Caesar leads a rebellion after giving the drugs to the animals. The movie explores complex emotions and Serkis’ performance became stuff for the legends.
Following ‘Rise’, ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ came out in 2014 and it was bigger and even better than the first one. Set after a decade of the ‘Rise’, ‘Dawn’ grapples with the dark consequences of the genetically advanced apes leading their own world where most humans have died as a side effect to the drug. A group of surviving humans led by Malcolm (Jason Clarke) has to clash against Caesar’s land. The tortured past of the animals in the hands of humans and humans’ ill notions of apes results in a devastating battle. Caesar and Malcolm join hands to carry the voice of reason and prudence. The film is replete with political and racial allegories and was a major success for the studio.
‘War of the Planet of the Apes’ in 2017 continued the celebrated series and ended on a devastating note. Caesar is forced to ignite his dark instincts after suffering personal losses of colossal proportions. The evil Colonel, played by Woody Harrelson, wreaks havoc on Caesar’s group with his militant group. The two groups are in armed conflict and Caesar meets Colonel in an epic battle to avenge his people. ‘War’ also was a critics darling and at the same time minted close to $500 million at the box office.
Planet Of The Apes 4 Plot: What Could it be About?
The possibility for the upcoming ‘Apes’ project is quite high. The series has created such a rich timeline with complex characters that we have multiple probabilities. The new trilogy ended on a conclusive note with the demise of Caesar and the story concerning this part ends here. So the new movie can well be about Caesar’s only living son Cornelius. The long-standing presence of Maurice and other faithful characters can serve as a nourishing foil to young Cornelius on his way to the leadership. In that way, the movie will be very political. If it intends to tie up with the original ‘Planet of the Apes’ of 1968, then we have a lot of time to cover, centuries actually.
Caesar’s high moral compass and his stoic resonance reverberate through the sophisticatedness of his apes. But the apes we see in the original one are rather cruel and savage. So this gradual change will be a nice thing to watch. The evolution of the alpha-omega bomb into a God symbol will also be an interesting narrative. Finally, the bad ape in ‘War’ leaves the makers with the possibility to explore the fact that there’s a whole world of conflicted apes out there without Caesar’s guidance. The upcoming movie can be a spin-off series that can tie up with the futuristic setting of the original series. Whatever it may be, we are surely up for some more ‘Planet of the Apes’ movies.
Planet of the Apes 4 Cast: Who Could be in it?
Matt Reeves’ ‘The Batman’ commitment leaves him little room for the ‘Apes’ franchise. So we may see a new director with a new perspective. And with changing perspectives, comes changing characters. But we still would love Andy Serkis coming back. If they continue with the narrative of ‘War’, then Karin Konoval and Steve Zahn can return to voice Maurice and Bad Ape, respectively. Beyond this, it’s anybody’s guess.
Planet of the Apes 4 Release Date: When can it Premiere?
Official news regarding the development of ‘Planet of the Apes’ 4 is sparse. We don’t have any solid details. But Disney is really looking forward to developing multiple ‘Apes’ projects, so we may see new details coming out sooner than later. But judging by Disney’s release slate and the popularity of the ‘Apes’ franchise, 2021 can be a likely bet.