When Rise of the Planet of the Apes came out back in 2011, expectations were insanely low. A prequel to one of the most iconic science fiction films of all time seemed like little more than a cash grab by the studio. But director Rupert Wyatt surprised everyone and crafted a legitimately great blockbuster with heart, soul, action, and character, and made me very excited about the future of the franchise.
Director Matt Reeves came in and did an excellent job with the sequel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and though he and producer Dylan Clark have War for the Planet of the Apes brewing now, they just said in an interview with /Film that they "absolutely" have ideas about where the story goes beyond the upcoming movie. And if you're thinking, "Wait, we already know how this ends," Reeves has fully embraced that aspect of this saga:
Because we know that that’s the ending, that it becomes Planet of the Apes, the cool thing about what was started in Rise is, that it’s no longer about what happens. It’s about how it happens. And stories about how are always about character and psychology. So in our minds, the idea that’s the end of the story gives us the chance to tell an epic saga that leads from where Caesar began in Rise to that world. It’s not about getting there and then redoing that story. We think it’s like a great Russian novel or something, and it’s all about following Caesar on that journey and the other apes as it builds along that way.
And you know the ending, but what you do know is also that the world is not that world. So how did it change? Caesar’s apes are not like the apes in the Planet of the Apes, right? They’re very brutal to the humans. That’s not what’s going on, so how did that happen? And you know that Caesar had such integrity, and that he has this sort of sense of right and wrong, of his morality, yet you watch that be challenged. He ends up having to kill one of his own. All of those things give us a chance to explore human nature and do it in a way that is really fun. ‘Cause these are all, frankly, totally new stories. We’re not doing any stories that were done.
It's almost exactly the same as the argument I've seen pop up about knowing spoilers ahead of time in movies. The argument is that for truly good movies that don't rely on gimmicks, the destination shouldn't matter nearly as much as the journey itself. I'm sort of torn about that because I feel like there are some movies with surprise twists that enhance the journey and would take away from your enjoyment if you knew them ahead of time, but I get what he's saying here.
So what happens after War for the Planet of the Apes? “We absolutely have ideas about where it goes,” Reeves told the site. It seems like the filmmaker is content with staying in the same cinematic universe to explore what he wants to say about the human condition, much like James Cameron with his Avatar movies. Greedily, as a film fan, I'd love to see an original project from Reeves, but at the same time, he's been killin' it with these Apes movies so far, so I'm glad to see him continue to bring those to life as long as they keep providing him with material he's able to dig into and get inspired by.