We learned, earlier this week, that Matt Reeves' upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes will conclude a trilogy story centered around the ape Caesar, personified since Rise of the Planet of the Apes by Andy Serkis. At the time, Apes producer Peter Chernin said that he saw Caesar as being on a collision course with humanity, and that would reach a satisfying conclusion in War. But Chernin, in the conversation, told me that this doesn't mean the end of the Apes franchise, so I asked him if they are thinking about telling movies in this world that aren't tied to the Caesar story arc. His answer surprised me, as he explained:
Yeah, but we're not there yet. We're starting to think about what comes after -- this is a battle for civilization. We believe we resolve this battle with great satisfaction. We're starting to think about what the world looks like next. We haven't gotten into which character is next, which character is a yes or a no. But we're spending a lot of time thinking. It's a complex proposition because we love these characters and this world. And these movies are successful right now. We're trying to balance -- obviously, we have commercial instincts as filmmakers. Conversely, if anything, I think we're more deeply committed to these characters and this story and the responsibility that we have.
An industry veteran, Peter Chernin understands the value of a sturdy franchise, as well as the importance of sticking a landing in a given trilogy. Now that it has been determined that War for the Planet of the Apes will conclude Caesar's story -- the tagline that recently was attached to the latest trailer was "Witness the End" -- there's potential to figure out other stories that could be taking place in the Apes universe. This is a similar approach to what's happening at Disney in the Star Wars saga. Not everything has to be a Luke Skywalker story. Eventually, we will see stories centered around wholly original characters, as was the case with Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Even War for the Planet of the Apes is beginning to bring in new characters that open up the already vast world of the Planet of the Apes. On the human side, we meet young Nova (Amiah Miller), a character who -- as an adult -- shows up in the original string of Planet of the Apes movies. And on the ape side, we meet new characters like "Bad Ape" (Steve Zahn), who has a fascinating story to tell.
Could these characters eventually get their own movies? It's possible, but Peter Chernin, in our exclusive interview, makes it clear that while discussions are going on about what the world will look like in a post-War landscape, the franchise isn't putting the cart before the horse... or before the apes. He states:
We have started doing some work on planning what comes next. But we need to get this thing in the can, which is probably still three or four weeks away, before we can even dig into that.
The team behind this revised Planet of the Apes franchise has long said that they will eventually connect these stories to the original Planet of the Apes films. But Matt Reeves even said that they are in no rush to do so, meaning that more movies could come that build on what Reeves continued in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes. I'm excited to see what the landscape will look like after Reeves latest film. It hits theaters on July 14.