In 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, we watched Caesar (Andy Serkis) go from caged animal to intelligent escapee, and in 2014’s Dawn, he evolved further into a simian leader tasked with protecting the future of a budding ape nation. Now, thanks to Collider’s Steve Weintraub, we know what Caesar’s next role will be: military commander. The site revealed today that the franchise’s next entry will be titled War of the Planet of the Apes.
It’s not an unexpected choice for the threequel, given that Caesar ended the last film preparing for battle against human military reinforcements. In Dawn, a fragile peace between apes and humans was shattered forever by the machinations of war-mongering ape Koba (Toby Kebbell) and human leader Dreyfus (Gary Oldman). Though both perished in an ensuing battle between humans and apes throughout San Francisco, their inability to accept the possibility of a solution in which both sides prospered meant war was inevitable.
Dawn director Matt Reeves, who is returning for this next entry, previously commented on his desire to show audiences the war between humans and apes, which didn’t end up happening in Dawn because Reeves ended up wanting a more open ending:
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.
That conclusion would have involved the arrival of warships requested by Dreyfus shortly before the climactic battle in Dawn. This next entry will find Caesar becoming a “mythic figure” like Moses, Reeves said last year.
War of the Planet of the Apes opens July 14, 2017.