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Fox and Disney look to return to the Planet of the Apes

One of the more successful box office properties Disney acquired with its purchase of 20th Century Fox was the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy. Word ran through the trade press this week that Disney has bumped up a production order on a 4th film in the series.

The new movie would be helmed by Wes Ball, the filmmaker behind the popular ‘Maze Runner’ films. The Maze Runner trilogy had a low budget, but was a box office success.

There’s a lot of synergy with the direction of the series, it’s use of motion capture technology to put actors behind each on screen ape, and long franchise history to draw on. I’m not surprised to hear that Disney is interested in moving forward with a fourth film.

The biggest problem is the film’s main character, and driving force, Caesar, died at the end of the last film (sorry, spoiler). But that does give screenwriters an opportunity to jump forward in the timeline a bit to one of the time travel inspired storylines, or they could go a new direction entirely.

The first Planet of the Apes film was released in 1968 and starred Charlton Heston as an astronaut who lands on a planet with an advanced ape civilization only to later discover he had traveled forward in time to a post apocalyptic future for Earth. In 2001, Tim Burton tried to reboot the series, but that movie was still using costumes for the apes and didn’t quite find an audience.

The new movies rebooted the show and featured the powerful motion-capture performance of Andy Serkis as Caesar.