Just when you thought you were out, those damn dirty apes pull you back in. Such is the news that 20th Century Fox, now under the ownership of the Walt Disney Company, is in the process of developing a new movie based around their popular Planet of the Apes intellectual property.
The news comes out of The Hollywood Reporter, which confirmed Wes Ball is now attached to write and direct a new movie set in the greater Planet of the Apes mythology. To date, Ball is best known for writing and directing the three-part Maze Runner trilogy, which itself was based on James Dashner’s source material of young adult novels. Ball therefore has history with Fox, as that franchise was developed at the studio back when it was its own independent Hollywood major. Of course times change, and this development is significant as it is the first franchise that began under the 20th Century Fox fanfare—excluding Star Wars, of course—to be developed by Disney since acquiring the studio.
Other details remain scarce, including whether the film will act a sequel to the critically well-received trilogy of Apes films released in this decade and starring Andy Serkis as Caesar. The last two films in that series were directed by Matt Reeves to critical raves, paving the way for him now spearheading The Batman over at Warner Bros.
Admittedly, it would be easy to continue this in the Serkis universe given that the Apes mythology can potentially span centuries and millennia: there could even a distant sequel about the world Caesar’s people built after his death at the end of War for the Planet of the Apes (2017). However, that series itself was a reboot of the disastrous 2001 remake by Tim Burton, which in turn was an attempted reboot of the original iconic series. That saga began with the 1968 masterpiece that was written by Rod Serling (The Twilight Zone) and adapted from Pierre Boulle’s still fairly singular source material novel.
In the original film, Charlton Heston plays the leading astronaut of a crew returning from a deep space mission that goes horribly wrong. Awoken thousands of years late from cryogenic freezing, Heston’s astronaut appears to have crashed on an alien planet where apes are the dominant species on the planet, and humans are the mindless beast of burden in the fields. However, (51-year-old spoiler), it’s revealed he was on Earth the whole time!
It’s a classic story that still hasn’t quite been repeated, if only because the twist can only surprise you once. But favoring nostalgia over surprise might fit right in line with a parent company that is remaking many of its own classics these days…