If you aren't familiar with Planet of the Apes, whether it's the original film series that started way back in 1968, the 2001 remake by Tim Burton, or the ground-breaking 2011 reimagining by Rupert Wyatt that spawned two equally astonishing sequels, then it's fair to say you've been living in a "madhouse".
Then there's the animated series, live-action series, and the 1963 French novel upon which the original classic is based, Pierre Boulle's La Planete des Singes, which interwove social commentary on man's over-reliance on technology, and his relationship with primates, with a unique sci-fi fantasy epic.
There's really no escaping Planet of the Apes, especially now that Disney owns the rights, following the Fox acquisition. In fact, they've already confirmed that a fourth Apes film is in the works. The trilogy that started with 2001 hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes, continuing with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and concluding with War for the Planet of the Apes, with the last two entries helmed by The Batman director Matt Reeves, were critical and financial juggernauts. They also received enormous praise for their revolutionary motion-capture performances, which we can't imagine even the upcoming Avatar 2 outdoing.
In fact, it's hard to think of another movie trilogy that's as perfect as Apes. Not only is each film stand-alone in its own right, but they're also each so jaw-droppingly good that it's easy to forget they're remakes – or ‘reimaginings', considering they never even re-adapted the original 1968 film, and have yet to even reach that scenario. But perhaps that's now set to change with the upcoming fourth film.
Planet of the Apes 4 Plot
We last left the apes following their battle with Woody Harrelson's Colonel and his soldiers. After defeating them, the apes discovered a new land where they could thrive, free from the wrath of any surviving humans. However, the film ended on a somber note, with Caesar dying, thus concluding his three-film arc.
The question is: where do the events of War for the Planet of the Apes leave the franchise? The story could easily end right there. After all, Caesar finally led his people to a new home, free of humans – all of whom now appear to be mute, and dying out from the simian flu. And while the final few moments of the film appear to set the stage for potential future installments, it's still the end of Caesar's story – of this there is no argument.
It's possible that we'll switch to the point of view of the crew of 'Icarus' - the spaceship mentioned on the news in Rise in a clever nod to 1968 original - who end up discovering a 'planet' ruled by apes. Switching perspectives is something the trilogy handled incredibly well, with Rise telling the story largely through the eyes of James Franco's character Dawn mixing things up between both humans and apes, and War being almost entirely from the apes' point of view. Screenwriter Rick Jaffar even suggested that Icarus was planted in Rise for the purpose of a future sequel.
However, re-adapting the original would be tricky territory to navigate. Firstly, we've been there and done that with Tim Burton's poorly received 2001 remake. While a box office hit, with some remarkable prosthetics and set pieces, the critics were unforgiving. And then there's the revelation that the planet in question is earth, which was the big twist in the 1968 film. Such a reveal now would be redundant, seeing as the audience already knows this. Nevertheless, seeing the earth now teeming with an ape population from the perspective of a character who has been quite literally out of the loop since before the simian flu pandemic would be interesting.
With all that said, War does indeed set the stage for a re-adaptation of the original: it introduces a younger version of the character Nova from 1968 original, while also explaining why humans are so scarce, why they're unable to speak, and why apes have been able to thrive and take over the planet. It's likely a sequel was never intended, though, and that the trilogy was simply establishing its own version of the events that precede the idea of a 'Planet of the Apes', without actually planning to go there.
Planet of the Apes 4 Cast
With very little known about the upcoming film, no cast list has been released. The only characters that are likely to return are the likes of apes Maurice, Rocket, and Bad Ape, and human character Nova, all of whom were played by Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Steve Zahn, and Amiah Miller in War. The chances are we'll also see Caesar's son, Cornelius, especially seeing as the film is to be a continuation of "Caesar's legacy". As for human actors other than Amiah Miller, the odds are against the likes of Will Rodman, or Malcolm and Ellie, having survived, who was played by James Franco, Jason Clarke, and Kerri Russell.
Planet of the Apes 4 Trailer
As of summer 2021, no teaser or trailer has been revealed.
Planet of the Apes 4 News
While the third film felt like a real ending, this is anything but the end for the reboot series. Rumors of a fourth film have been circulating since before War was even released in 2017. In the months prior, director Matt Reeves expressed an interest in returning to do more sequels. It wasn't until April 2019 that Disney confirmed that future Apes films were indeed in development, all of which would take place in the same universe as the reboot trilogy. Later that year, director Wes Ball was announced to write and direct the fourth film. In an interview with Discussing Film last year, Ball said the following:
"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."
He also confirmed that the film is "largely a CG movie", which may suggest that there will be even fewer humans in sight this time around - which would make sense, given that they were already near-extinction in War.
Planet of the Apes 4 Release Date
Last year, director Wes Ball suggested that the film could go into virtual development, given that it is going to be a mostly CG film. While there haven't been any updates on the new film since last year, which is likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it's possible that a lot of progress has been made in the background, which tends to be the case with films that are composed largely of a digital nature. Just look at how long it's taken them to develop Avatar 2. So as yet, unfortunately, there's no release date, but we'll bring you any news as it unfolds.
Details might be slim at present, but one thing's for sure: between the likes of future motion capture-centric movies such as the upcoming Apes and Avatar sequels, human beings in the film might just become an endangered species...