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Here’s the unusual part of being a prequel to one of the seminal works of science-fiction cinema. Audiences will look at you and wait to see how you connect to the movie they have burned into their imaginations. A slight disconnect of materials plagued Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. All anyone wanted (the director, as well, it seems) was an explanation as to how it tied to Alien. And a similar issue is starting to crop up with our current box-office leader, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Where is the ape-hating Charlton Heston? We found out.
Knowing that Matt Reeves already has committed to another Apes movie, I started to ask him during a recent, exclusive interview, if some of the important pieces had moved into place yet. I wanted to know if they had yet discussed a title, but he says they have not. But when I asked him how many more films he thinks 20th Century Fox can make before we get to the events of 1968, the director had a lot of strong ideas. Reeves said:
I think some people assume that we’re going to get back to the ’68 film, like, next. And actually… no. To me, the cool thing – people have asked me, ‘Isn’t it boring, because you know how it’s going to end?’ And I say that’s the best part about it. This world is nothing like that world. How do we get from here to there? Instead of being a story about ‘what,’ it becomes a story about how and why, which is all about character. And if this is Caesar’s story, and the story of the mythic character that he becomes, then as we know in the apes timeline, Caesars begat other Caesars, and it’s a generational story. This is an epic journey toward the trajectory of that story!
That’s great news for anyone who currently loves the type of stories that are being told in the Apes universe. Infinite Apes movies sound appealing, so long as they can continue to be as rich and rewarding as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Yet the producers of the original series will tell you that they can’t all be winners. Every once in a while, you end up with a Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.
As you know, Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes exist prior to Franklin J. Schaffner’s 1968 classic Planet of the Apes. By the time Charlton Heston’s astronaut, George Taylor, crash lands on this mysterious planet, the apes had evolved to a point where they are the dominant species. Only in the closing moments do we realize these damn, dirty apes have taken over OUR planet.
Clearly, we are still early on in the process in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which takes place 10 years after the events of Rise (which would be Point A on the Apes timeline). Fox likely will stay in this game so long as the sequels keep making money. Retaining talents like Matt Reeves helps. Bu don’t expect a "Damn you all to hell" when the next Apes movie reaches theaters on July 29, 2016.