There’s a new Planet of the Apes movie in the works at Fox/Disney and director Wes Ball sat down with Discussing Film to offer an update on where the project stands.
The site tried hard but couldn’t pry too many details out of the tight-lipped Ball, who emphasized that he had to be “careful” for fear of saying too much, noting that the secrecy surrounding the new Apes movie is roughly 100 times more intense than it was on his last project, the ill-fated Mouse Guard.
Back in February, Ball tweeted that “it’s safe to say Caesar’s legacy will continue,” but what does that mean, really? Well, it means that the new Apes movie won’t be a straight reboot, and is expected to be a continuation of the three films that came before it — a part four, if you will, though this franchise has always eschewed numbered titles.
What Ball did say, however, is that this project could get under way sooner than we think:
“We have a giant art team cranking away on some incredible concept art. 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.”
Ball talked about how he landed the gig, and it really came down to the old adage that when one door closes, another opens. In this case, Disney pulled the plug on Fox’s Mouse Guard due to a reported budget of $175 million. Ball was surely down, but he certainly wasn’t out thanks to his relationships with Rise/Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves and Fox exec Steve Asbell. It was Asbell who discovered Ball and handed him the Maze Runner franchise after falling for his short film Ruin, while Reeves had been a producer on Mouse Guard and knew what Ball was capable as a storyteller, as well as a filmmaker with big-budget experience.
“When Mouse Guard fell apart, it was pretty quickly said, ‘Look we’re not going to do Mouse Guard, but what would you do with The Planet of the Apes?”'[Because] 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. So it was kind of 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.”
So how will Ball and his team do their own thing while staying of a piece with the last three films? I’ll let him explain, to the best he can right now.
“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. Again, 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.”
When Ball is finally ready to unveil his Planet of the Apes movie to the world, he hopes fans will see it on the biggest screen possible, and by then, it should be safe to do so.
“[We’re trying to] make cool stuff that wants to be seen on the biggest screen possible. Now there might be some time before that happens and we’re able to do that again. But we’re still very much in that place of hoping that after this is all over, when we’ve streamed our 100th series over again, we’re ready to go out and be in that communal experience of sitting in a dark theater, watching some incredible and extravagant movie. I’m very hopeful that will still be the case. I’m assuming it will, but it’s been interesting to say the least.”