While the original Planet of the Apes movie series began hundreds of years in the future to show these primates dominating Earth, the reboot series opted to start from the beginning and show the origin of how the apes rose to power. The central figure to this saga has been Caesar, the first ape to become super-intelligent and has led his fellow enhanced primates lead a new life. The next chapter of Caesar's journey will be told next year in War for the Planet of the Apes, and while we don't know yet what his fate will be at the end of that story, director Matt Reeves isn't worried about the new Apes series continuing without Caesar leading the charge.
Speaking with Screen Rant, Reeves explained how even though Caesar is the bright figure that that apes will admire for years to come, that doesn't mean that future Planet of the Apes movies can't feature different main protagonists. As he put it:
Matt Reeve's logic is sound, especially when you consider that just like any other living thing, Caesar will eventually die. Whether that's naturally or in battle remains to be seen, but either way, ape life will continue once he's gone. Think about it this way: Rise of the Planet of the Apes took place around 2011, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes happened 10 years later. War for the Planet of the Apes doesn't have a definitive time period yet, but presumably it's only a couple years later, maybe another decade at most. That still leaves hundreds of years to go until the civilization seen in the original Planet of the Apes movie (and the 2001 remake) will be fully formed. There are plenty of stories to be told in that era or the preceding years.
Caesar's actor, Andy Serkis, echoed what Matt Reeves' statement, saying that there's enough groundwork to tell stories through the viewpoint of other characters. He added:
While we'll have to wait and see what's in store for Caesar, he has at least one more adventure left to be told. War for the Planet of the Apes will follow him and his ape colony battling human military forces led by the Colonel, played by Woody Harrelson. When the apes suffer heavy losses, Caesar will have to tap into his dark side to avenge his kind, and the outcome of this war will determine the fate of both species on Earth.
War for the Planet of the Apes hits theaters on July 14, 2017.