The film that surprised me the most this year was undoubtedly Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Going into the movie, I saw it as an unnecessary cash-in on the Planet of the Apes franchise that inexplicably starred James Franco. Much to my surprise, director Rupert Wyatt delivered one of the most emotional films of the year with a powerhouse performance by Andy Serkis in some of the best motion-capture these eyes have ever seen. With that, I’m happy to report that Fox is now officially moving forward with a sequel to the film as they’ve just closed a very hefty deal for Serkis to return and reprise his role as Caesar. Hit the jump for more, including who else is returning for the follow-up and news on Fox’s push for awards consideration for Serkis’ performance.
Fox is planning multiple sequels to Apes, as Deadline reports that Serkis is the first actor to be locked in for the follow-up as well as future installments. Wyatt (who deserves a hefty amount of credit for Apes’ success) was already under contract for the sequel, so he’s back, as are screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. There’s no word on deals for James Franco or Freida Pinto, but the former’s arc had a nice ending to it with Apes, and the latter spoke about three sentences throughout the course of the entire film, so I wouldn’t be upset if they don’t return.
As for where the franchise goes in future installments, the story is still currently in the idea stage. Wyatt previously ruminated on where the sequel could pick up:
“You could start this story again eight years from where we left off, the next generation of apes, those that have come from our protagonists, perhaps going in to a conflict with humans and showing real fear, in the same way as going into war for young soldiers in this day and age, telling their story. Or how apes are taking over cities, and being moved into human environments and having to interact with them and deal with things that are part of our culture and understand and evolve through them. Spies that are in the employ of the apes, working against humans and humans maybe existing underground, because that’s a way they can avoid the virus, coming up above ground wearing gas masks, and maybe that’s what dehumanises them.”
All great ideas, and again here you can see how Wyatt doesn’t simply think in terms of spectacle or what will look cool, he’s all about the emotional aspects of the story. Since there’s no script, it’ll most likely be a while before we see the Apes sequel head into production. Then there’s the lengthy post-production process that will most certainly involve many more apes that need crafting.
Not only is Serkis getting a hefty payday to return to the franchise, Fox is now officially gunning for an Oscar nomination for the actor’s strong performance. This isn’t the first time a Serkis-lead motion-capture performance has garnered awards attention, as there was plenty of talk (and controversy) concerning his work as Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. The jury’s still out on how the acting community as a whole feels about motion-capture performances being judged alongside live-action, but Serkis’ talent undeniably shines through his performance as Caesar. This is much, much more than cartoons, folks.