Why Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Changed Its Ending At The Last Minute
Warning: Spoilers for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes are in play
Odds are you’ve seen this weekend’s Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, and if you haven’t, you definitely should. Matt Reeves and company have crafted a film that's bound to go down in history as a thinking-person’s blockbuster, as it was a film that made you think and feel in between all of the pre-requisite explosions and violence. However, there was one final note of conflict that the film originally had planned for its explosive finale. Something that was cut from the film in the later phases of production, and has been alluded to by Reeves himself.
During an interview with Collider, Matt Reeves was asked about a different ending he had in mind, in which the military presence summoned by the human camp presumably arrives and engages the apes. However, the director changed his mind for a couple of reasons, which he explicitly states in his interview. His main reasoning was as follows:
"We actually did have an ending that went one step further, and I realized late in the game I was like ‘Wait a minute, I don’t want us to be boxed in this way.’"
Reeves went on to state that in addition to story concerns for the next installment, the main narrative thrust that he wanted to end the film on was that of the final moment between Caesar and Malcolm. In other words, instead of giving a tease that would have said, "Aw yeah, I’m so ready for War For The Planet Of The Apes in 2016," we’re left with an emotionally devastating moment that’s soaked in quiet foreboding. War is coming, and we’re not supposed to be happy about it one bit.
Despite Matt Reeves’ knowledge that the effects weren’t fully realized for the "more military" ending to Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, I think I’ve spotted some pieces of it still in the marketing. Particularly in the final trailer for the film, you see two shots that seemed like they’re were giving a lot away, but in the end never appeared in the film. The first shot I could think of when I heard about the ending was the one explicit shot of an actual ship sailing into San Francisco, right after Dreyfus’ line of dialogue about the military.
Take a look at the Golden Gate Bridge in this shot, it looks teeming with apes ready to fight. Upon closer inspection of that same trailer, it looks like there’s another kind of finished shot from that same sequence that blinks by. In this shot, we see several apes swinging on the underside of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Finally, and this might seem a little tenuous, if you look at the soundtrack listing for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, you’ll see a track named Ain’t That A Stinger. One of the many terms for a post credits sequence is none other than a stinger, which leads to the conclusion that there was a stinger originally planned for Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. That stinger very well could have been the military battle, and with one simple cut it was gone.
Fret not, as Matt Reeves has an extended version of Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes in the works for an eventual Blu Ray release. Maybe with the film’s recent box office victory over the competition, as well as its predecessor, 20th Century Fox will kick in a little extra money to complete that alternate ending. In the meantime, some of this material may have made it into the Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes novelization, which goes on shelves today. If you’re itching for more answers (like I am), you’re going to want to check that out.
Of course, that’s after you see Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes, which is now playing.
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