'War For The Planet Of The Apes' Will End Caesar's Story, But Not The Franchise

The Planet of the Apes prequel series is by far the best movie franchise currently playing cinemas, Star Wars excluded. A new trailer for War For the Planet of the Apes teases a conclusion with the tagline "Witness The End." Does this mean the third installment will be the last? The War For the Planet of the Apes ending doesn't necessarily mean an end for this franchise.

War producer Peter Chernin explains to DenOfGeek that War for the Planet of the Apes is the conclusion of a planned trilogy:

"We made a very conscious decision frankly, when we started thinking about this seven or eight years ago, to look at these three movies as a trilogy in a lot of ways...It was inevitable from the moment apes gained intelligence that apes and humans were going to be on a collision course for what would be the dominant species on Earth. And this movie is the war to resolve that dominance. We've always looked at this as a three-part story. And the appropriate ending of that story is to see which species dominates." ... "But I think from the moment we started this trilogy, we always had our eye on that original series of movies. Both because we love them as filmmakers, but also, we've always wanted to acknowledge that those movies existed. So I think we've always in some ways tried to two things with the films, which is on the one hand tip our hat to the original series of the movies, and pay homage to them, and then at the same time do satisfying, important, meaningful standalone stories."

But that doesn't mean the Planet of the Apes films will end with War for the Planet of the Apes. Chernin revealed that the Apes saga could go on beyond this set of movies:

"Look, obviously we are somewhat dependent upon the box office gods. We have a whole universe of Ape stories that we would like to still be telling. We wanted to complete this conflict in this particular trilogy, but we've got a world of stories left to tell, if the public is gracious enough to ask us to do so."

So reading between the lines, it seems that Chernin is saying that War for the Planet of the Apes will be the end of Caesar's story, but not the end of this franchise. This is interesting, because I can't quite imagine a new Apes film in this series without Andy Serkis' Caesar as the emotional center. However, I'm sure if they have the same team involved, they will figure a way for the story to move forward.

war for the planet of the apes poster

How the Series Can Move Past Caesar

Chernin talked further about what could come next in an interview with CinemaBlend:

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. ... 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.

And let's also keep in mind that if the franchise does take this approach, it doesn't mean that a new film won't feature the talents of Andy Serkis in another role. We actually asked him about the possibility when we were on set, and here is what he said at that time:

"Absolutely. There is always that potential in the same way — Roddy McDowall ended up playing Cornelius to Caesar. Two different characters. That's the joy of the craft. Bring it on I say."

And last December we asked director Matt Reeves and producer Dylan Clark about the continuation of the franchise, and here is what they told us:

Matt Reeves: We absolutely have ideas about where it goes.

Dylan Clark: And it's always through character. So we've come to really love Maurice, and we've come to love Rocket. So 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.

This statement hints that maybe Maurice or Rocket could become the central character in the next film. While we were on set, producer Dylan Clark told us that he believes War for the Planet of the Apes has a better ending than Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and that the ending of this film could be good enough to be the end of the franchise, if needed.

We know that the movie does not stop where that original Planet of the Apes began, so there is still a lot more room to tell more story. Dylan also revealed on set that they had created elaborate backstories for all of the ape characters that could theoretically be made into a prequel. For instance, Maurice grew up in a circus, which is where he learned sign language. This backstory has been apparently fleshed out enough that it could become its own movie.

War For the Planet of the Apes opens on July 14, 2017.