When any studio releases a major tentpole movie that's got even the vaguest possibility of making a sequel, you can assume that studio is aiming to build the movie as the first in the trilogy, or maybe an even bigger franchise from there. The first Pirates of the Caribbean film didn't automatically scream for a sequel, and there sure wasn't anyone assuming after The Hangover that we'd see more adventures from Phil and the gang. But any time a studio spends a lot of money on something, they not only plan to get back their investment, but use that money to make more and more where that came from.
So the news in today's Entertainment Weekly that Rise of the Planet of the Apes screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver "pictured a trilogy" isn't exactly shocking. But given that this is the latest installment in a franchise that includes five films (six if you count the Tim Burton remake), it's interesting that they're limiting themselves to just three. Here's the conversation in question:
They go on in the interview to say that they have ideas for how to incorporate the Icarus, the manned space mission to Mars seen in the background of Rise of the Planet of the Apes that also also happens to have Charlton Heston's Astronaut Taylor on board. As a very clear prequel to the events of the original Planet of the Apes-- acting as a giant spoiler for that movie if you've somehow missed the iconic Statue of Liberty ending all these years-- Rise of the Planet of the Apes sets up a lot of Easter Eggs for the stories to follow. Had the movie not been a hit, we could have all just mentally linked those hints to the previous films that already exist. But now that Rise is one of the summer's biggest surprise hits, Jaffa and Silver are charged with further weaving their own story into the existing world of Apes films-- and at some point, maybe diverging from them entirely.
The fact that they've planned for three films is promising, though, indicating that the world established by Rise is also one with a firm end point, and no potential to wander endlessly around mythologies that nobody cares about. Then again, we would have said that about the Pirates trilogy, and yet the fourth one showed up anyway. The fate of the Apes is really in the hands of Fox, who could easily decide to make six more of these after all; if they keep Jaffa and Silver around, though, we've at least got a decent shot at the next two being good.
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Staff Writer at CinemaBlend