War for the Planet of the Apes sequel

Between Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, we watched Andy Serkis‘ Caesar grow from a wide-eyed baby ape raised by humans into the fierce leader of an ape community in the midst of chaos. War for the Planet of the Apes continues that thread, tossing Caesar into the middle of a war he never wanted and pushing his psyche toward ever darker places.

But what’s coming up for Caesar and his apes after that? Are we headed directly into Planet of the Apes territory, or will be there more story left to tell? In a conversation with /Film, director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark revealed that they “absolutely” have ideas about where the Apes story will go next.¬†

It’s a given that these Apes reboot/prequel films will eventually lead us toward a world resembling the original Planet of the Apes. In a sense, then, the ultimate ending is already written. But the filmmakers don’t see that as a drawback. “That’s the best part!” Reeves told me.

Because we know that that’s the ending, that it becomes Planet of the Apes, the cool thing about what was started in Rise is, that it’s no longer about what happens. It’s about how it happens. And stories about how are always about character and psychology. So in our minds, the idea that’s the end of the story gives us the chance to tell an epic saga that leads from where Caesar began in Rise to that world. It’s not about getting there and then redoing that story. We think it’s like a great Russian novel or something, and it’s all about following Caesar on that journey and the other apes as it builds along that way.

And you know the ending, but what you do know is also that the world is not that world. So how did it change? Caesar’s apes are not like the apes in the Planet of the Apes, right? They’re very brutal to the humans. That’s not what’s going on, so how did that happen? And you know that Cesar had such integrity, and that he has this sort of sense of right and wrong, of his morality, yet you watch that be challenged. He ends up having to kill one of his own. All of those things give us a chance to explore human nature and do it in a way that is really fun. ‘Cause these are all, frankly, totally new stories. We’re not doing any stories that were done.

At the moment, of course, Reeves and Clark are mostly focused on making War for the Planet of the Apes work. However, they admitted to me that they have already started looking ahead. “We absolutely have ideas about where it goes,” said Reeves. Although the pair did not go into detail with me on those ideas, it’s worth pointing out that Reeves has said before that the series could continue without Caesar at its core.

During our conversation, Clark hinted that the films could continue to draw from the other characters they’ve established. “It’s always through character. So we’ve come to really love Maurice, and we’ve come to love Rocket,” he said. “There’s lots of different opportunities to explore. So we know that there is mileage left in the characters and because these are character-driven stories, we hope to have more opportunity to tell them.”

War for the Planet of the Apes arrives July 14, 2017.

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