It sounds like the new Planet of the Apes movie in the works at 20th Century Fox Studios won’t be a total reboot after all. When news broke in December that The Maze Runner trilogy director Wes Ball had signed on to helm a new Planet of the Apes movie, it was unclear if it would be a reboot of franchise or a sequel. After all, director Matt Reeves had just brought the most recent trilogy to an emotional (and violent) conclusion with the excellent 2017 film War for the Planet of the Apes. Moreover, would the new Disney overlords even allow Fox to continue on with the serious and adult tone of such an expensive franchise?
Many questions remain, but Ball took to Twitter recently to clear up confusion over the nature of his new film, suggesting that it won’t be a reboot at all:
You’ll recall that at the end of War for the Planet of the Apes, Caesar (Andy Serkis) is dying of a mortal wound. Maurice promises to tell Caesar’s son Cornelius who Casear was, and how he led the apes to a life of freedom from humanity’s tyranny. It was a sorrowful but ultimately hopeful conclusion, and given Ball’s choice of words here I have to wonder if his film plans on picking up where Reeves left off by making Cornelius the new protagonist.
When news of Ball’s involvement with Apes first broke, he noted how big of a fan he was of both the new trilogy and the original franchise. “I would only do this if I felt I could offer something special while honoring what’s come before,” Ball said in a tweet. “We have something that’s shaping up to be an awesome chapter to this franchise.”
The original series of Apes movies that were produced before the CG-aided Rise of the Planet of the Apes are sorely underrated. They were fairly loosely connected, and while Fox tightened the budget with each successive movie, all of the films tackled important socio-political issues and were ripe with thematic resonance. So if Ball is indeed fast forwarding a few years and telling a Cornelius story, that’s right in line with how the original franchise continued. Indeed, Cornelius was the ape protagonist of the original 1968 film and had significant roles in additional sequels.
So yeah, the news that Ball’s film is not a reboot is very much welcome indeed, and I only hope that Disney allows him to infuse his Planet of the Apes with the thematic weight that’s been a staple of this iconic sci-fi franchise from the beginning.