Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of the big surprises of last summer. A movie that many (quite understandably) expected to be horrible, it's grossed nearly half a billion dollars worldwide and earned solid reviews. If there's one single element that's key to that success, it's probably Andy Serkis. The renowned motion-capture performer, who has given life to characters such as Gollum and King Kong, strapped on the spandex and sensors again for Rise to portray Caesar, a chimp who is accidentally dosed with an experimental Alzheimer's drug and becomes super-intelligent as a result. What's an oppressed lab chimp to do when suddenly possessed of vast intellect? Why, lead his ape-ly brethren in a revolution and take over the planet, that's what. And the reason Caesar works as well as a character comes down largely to Serkis' mastery of movement and expression in conveying emotion. He's indispensible.

Fox seems to think so, too. The rumored plans are to have Rise serve as the first of a new Apes trilogy. Many of the core crew were already signed on for a potential sequel, including director Rupert Wyatt and screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. One person who wasn't already signed on for the next one? Andy freakin' Serkis, that's who. As a result, Deadline is reporting that Serkis has just signed a "healthy seven-figure deal" to play Caesar again. Seven figures buys a lot of goddamn bananas.

There's still no word on when such a sequel might start shooting, or even if stars James Franco and Freida Pinto would return. Ultimately, however, 20th Century Fox has wisely realized who the most important character in the movie (or movies) is -- Caesar, and the man behind him. Without Serkis, a sequel would be just a lot of pointless monkey business.

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