The ending of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is tragic, inevitable, and telling. Caesar’s motivation throughout the film is trying to avoid war through a policy of isolation, and then seeing if peace is even possible. Fear on both sides destroys any possibility of peace, and then in the closing lines of the film Caesar says, “War has… already begun. Ape started war. And human… Human will not forgive.”
So the title of the next film may not be shocking, but we’re hearing from sources that the next Planet of the Apes movie will be titled:
War of the Planet of the Apes
And I’m on board with that. It’s a good, strong title that raises the stakes, and certainly breaks from the interchangeable “Rise” and “Dawn” for the recent Planet of the Apes films.
Director Matt Reeves was already pushing to send the apes into war for the ending of Dawn, and told Steve that the original ending “went one step further”, but he didn’t want to be boxed in. Here’s his full quote:
“We actually did have an ending that went one step further, and I realized late in the game, ‘Wait a minute. I don’t want us to be boxed in in this way. I think we should be left with a more open—knowing that we were going to figure out what the next story is—I didn’t want to in a way narrow our options.’ I wanted to open them up.
What was really most important was to leave you in that emotional space with Caesar, which is the ending of the movie that you’ve seen, and know that the future is coming, but not already be at that future. Because the moment is really about the moment that’s past. It could have been the planet of the humans and the apes, and that parting between Caesar and Malcolm is a very emotional moment to me, and I didn’t want something that distracted and became something else.
So yeah, there actually was another version of the movie, and that version never even got fully realized. We cut it late, but the effects for it weren’t realized for it either.”
Presumably, that conclusion would have actually been the start of the war with an armed force coming to San Francisco since Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) told Malcolm (Jason Clarke) that the military was on their way. There’s also a shot of a warship that was used in an international trailer, but didn’t appear in the finished movie.
“War” will likely be the biggest Apes film yet, and although the title implies that Caesar will have to become a general of sorts, Reeves told us that the next movie “is about him becoming the seminal figure for ape history. [It’s] like myth ascension, him becoming the ape Moses, for lack of a better sort of character to model him after.” Moses isn’t traditionally associated with being a warrior, so I’m not exactly sure what Reeves means by that analogy. Perhaps he means that Caesar will lead the Apes to “the promised land” (i.e. their dominance on Earth) but won’t be able to enter (will he die at the end?). However Reeves chooses to proceed, I can’t wait to see the next chapter in the Apes saga.
War of the Planet of the Apes opens July 14, 2017. If you want to know more about the Planet of the Apes franchise, check out my retrospective series:
- Planet of the Apes
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes
- Escape from the Planet of the Apes
- Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes
- Planet of the Apes (2001)
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes