matt reeves star wars/Planet of the Apes

One of the interesting bits of trivia I learned while talking to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes director Matt Reeves was that the first movie he made was a Planet of the Apes/Star Wars mash-up called Galactic Battles. Find out more about that long lost film and how it feels for two childhood friends (Reeves and JJ Abrams) who geeked out as teenagers over Star Wars and Planet of the Apes to be in charge of making new films in those franchises.

The Best Teen Super 8mm Films of ’81 held at Los Angeles’s Nuart Theater in March 1982

As some of you know, Reeves grew up as an obsessed Planet of the Apes fan. Reeves told me:

I was so obsessed, first, my first Star Wars was Planet of the Apes. ‘Cause that was when I was younger. And then I saw Star Wars and then my head exploded again. I love those movies. And then I got into all kinds of movies. But those were the two kind of world creation movies that somehow really affected my childhood in a profound way. And literally when J.J. [Abrams] and I met, we bonded, connected over those kind of movies.

You may have heard the now infamous story of how Reeves and JJ Abrams met while appearing on a public access TV show called Word of Mouth where they got a chance to screen their short 8mm movies.

Gerard Ravel, who produced the tv show, launched a film festival, The Best Teen Super 8mm Films of ’81 was held at Los Angeles’s Nuart Theater in March 1982. Steven Spielberg read about their films in an article about the event the Los Angeles Times (titled The Beardless Wonders of Film Making) and hired Abrams and Reeves, at the time young teenagers, to clean his old 8mm films and repair the splices.

Star Wars Hyperspace

Matt Reeves Star Wars: Galactic Battles

Well, Reeves’ first 8 millimeter movie was actually a Planet of the Apes/Star Wars mash-up, which remains uncompleted to this day.

I made an 8 millimeter movie which I worked on and was really important to me and then my camera got stolen when our house, there was a party and so I only made half the movie. But it was like a, you know, it was this production that it’s the great unfinished film of my childhood, which was called really imaginatively and really originally it was called Galactic Battles. I don’t know how I came up with that title. But the idea was that it would be this kind of Star Wars story which of course for me the big thing was also to be in it as well, so me and my friends were in it. But not only on the planets when they reached other, you know, lands the things that they found were apes. So they were, it was kind of this weird mix of Apes and Star Wars and this whole thing.

It was later that Reeves realized that his childhood was a bit of a mash-up upon itself.

I always think that like the General Urko I think it is. And he’s got that headdress on, which I thought was totally cool, which is obviously totally taken from samurai stuff and is like totally Kurosawa and all of those things also are the same things that influenced Star Wars. So Darth Vader looks vaguely like General Urko. So all of that stuff is all the stuff that’s kind of all mushed together in my childhood and they all feel weirdly connected.

Star Wars Episode VII Contest JJ Abrams

The other day I was geeking out about Star Wars Episode 7 and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and it occurred to me that there was a good chance that young teenage versions of JJ Abrams and Matt Reeves were at one time also sitting around a table geeking out about their favorite films, Star Wars and Apes, and now both of those filmmakers have grown to be in a place to make direct installments of those film franchises.

If somebody had told me and or J.J. that those movies that we were so obsessed with that made us want to make movies, that those franchises would still be alive and that they would actually want to make a movie in those franchises, I don’t think we would have believed it. I would have been like what? I mean, I already was making a Super 8. But it’s a little different making it, you know, in mo-cap and all of that stuff.

Yes, very different. And I did a search and could not find one single feature film named Galactic Battles in existence*, which is strange, because it seems like an obvious title and there have been decades of Star Wars knock-offs since Lucas made A New Hope. Matt, I guess the title is still available if and when you want to return to it? :)

* There is a Pokemon television series titled “Pokémon: DP Galactic Battles”

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