Wes Ball Reveals New ‘Planet of The Apes’ Movie Is Written By ‘Avatar 2’ Screenwriter Josh Friedman – Teases Weta Digital’s Return?

Despite original reports that Wes Ball’s new Planet of The Apes film would be a hard reboot of the franchise, the director has come out publicly to debunk that the film will be ignoring or undoing the work of the last three films. 

While speaking with Discussing Film, Wes dropped an interesting tidbit about the creative team working on the new Apes film that includes Avatar 2 and Terminator: Dark Fate screenwriter Josh Friedman tackling the script. 

BALL: “We were using the same material, the same kind of technology, we were using a lot of the same people involved – I had asked Andy Serkis to join Mouse Guard. So it was kind of natural fit. I understand where it came from and my big thing was: what do you do for a Planet of the Apes sequel? One, those last three movies are one of the great trilogies we have in modern movie history. They are just so well done. They honored the original movies they sprang from, the Charlton Heston movies, but they grounded it in a modern sensibility and it just worked. Caesar is one of the great movie characters that we’ll have throughout time. So what do you do to follow that up, right? At the same time, I wasn’t interested in doing a part four either. We want to also do our own thing.”

“We have a take. We have a way of staying in the universe that was created before us, but we’re also opening ourselves up in being able to do some really cool new stuff. Again, I’m trying to be careful here. I’ll say this, for fans of the original three don’t worry – you’re in good hands. The original writers and producers that came up with Rise and Dawn, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, they’re also on board with this. Josh Friedman is writing this thing, a lot of the same crew is kind of involved. We will feel like we’re part of that original trilogy, but at the same time we’re able to do some really cool new stuff. It will be really exciting to see on the biggest screen possible.”

It sounds like that “technology” tidbit would infer that Weta Digital will be making a return for his incarnation. Weta had previously worked on all three of the recent films. 

Interestingly enough, Wes worked closely with Weta Digital in the past on his Maze Runner sequels Mazer Runner: The Scorch Trials and Maze Runner: The Death Cure. 

He was also set to work again with Weta for his fantasy film Mouse Guard before Disney and 20th Century Studios pulled the plug on it post-merger. The graphic novel adaptation was going to be produced by Matt Reeves with Andy Serkis taking a lead role as the villain. 

The director also mentions they’re still in the scripting and production design phase of the film but could begin “virtual production” soon.

BALL: “Well, Planet of the Apes is moving forward and we have a giant art team cranking away on some incredible concept art. We’ve got the screenplay continuing to move forward, that will take the time that it takes and so that’s all good. Planet of the Apes is moving forward baby! Not only that, but we could actually be in virtual production relatively soon because it’s largely a CG movie.”

I’m really curious if they’re going to push the franchise deep into the future side of things. As the recent trilogy only covered the settings of the final films in the franchise that took cues from the final two installments, Conquest and Battle. 

I think it’ll be interesting to see what the ape society looks like in two thousand years or at the very least a couple of hundred years. Wes can surely honor the look and legacy of the first three films while pushing the franchise in a new direction to give it new life along with showcasing what ape cities could like in the future. It also allows them to bring back Andy Serkis to play another chimpanzee character, not unlike how Roddy McDowall played Cornelius and then later on his son Caesar. 


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