Rumors swirled around during 2017 that the latest film in the Planet of the Apes franchise would be its last. But recent reports indicate that another film is incoming and one that is set to continue the new timeline. Disney’s acquisition of Fox means that they now own the IP of the franchise and, according to Wes Ball, director of the Maze Runner series, they have tapped him in to direct the next installment. Ball, who has been known for providing his social media followers with insights and behind the scenes secrets, stated that the film would likely carry on Caesar’s legacy. So, we know that the film won’t be a reboot – but what else do we know?
War of the Planet of the Apes premiered in 2017 and tied together the trilogy so far of the reboot timeline starring Andy Serkis as Caesar. The film was well-received by critics, citing a fitting conclusion to the story built up around the titular ape. The film also did well at the box office, earning $491 million worldwide. With the film continuing this timeline and ‘Caesar’s legacy’, we could further see new elements be addressed in the world. There is a lot of scope for where this story could take us and, with a likely release date of 2021 onwards, producers have time to analyze what will do well.
The fact that the reboot trilogy did well isn’t a surprise. Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) were also well-received and even earned Oscar nods. The films aired in a transformative time for sci-fi cinema, aided by strong special effects and a cinemagoing public who wanted ‘out there’ stories. As other sci-fi films have been nominated and won at prestigious awards, those in the mainstream cinematic community are seeing sci-fi in a new light.
The franchise has remained popular during its ‘off-season’ too. The video game Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier was released in 2017 to tie into the film’s release and is available as a Steam download for anyone wanting to still play it. There is scope for a future game for the new film based on the success levels of Last Frontier. Those who play slots online can even play a Planet of the Apes inspired slot game produced by NetEnt. The game takes motifs and iconography from the franchise – as inspired by the original films from the 1970s as it is tailored to the reboot audience.
While we don’t know that much about the next Planet of the Apes film, we know that it has big shoes to fill. The three films in the reboot series have done exceptionally well, so there’s no reason that the fourth installment won’t either. Producers have had a knack so far at telling stories that resonate with sci-fi lovers, but also with the wider audience and giving the apes a humanity that has made us care for them onscreen. The ‘Caesar’s legacy’ that Wes Ball alludes to is can only be speculated upon, but many are pleased that the inevitable next film will be a continuation of the world they have created and not another reboot.