It was heartbreaking to see Wes Ball’s (Maze Runner Trilogy) big special effects event film Mouse Guard getting scrapped as part of the wave of films that got cancelled in the wake of Disney’s merger with 21st Century Fox and taking oversight on feature films in development at 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios).
Ball would instead be announced as the director and co-writer on a fourth installment in the modern Planet of The Apes franchise, the filmmaker assuring fans the project wouldn’t be a reboot but taking place in the same universe as the last three movies. The director co-writing the new film with Josh Friedman, who has worked on Steven Spielberg’s War of The Worlds, Brian De Palma’s The Black Dahlia, Terminator: Dark Fate, the Snowpiercer series, and Apple’s Foundation.
It looks like the next film should have the same level of impressive visual effects as previous installments.
The Ronin has learned that Weta Digital’s Phillip Leonhardt will be the visual effects supervisor on the untitled film having previously worked on Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel and Maze Runner: The Death Cure. Leonhardt is no stranger to the franchise with involvement on Matt Reeves’ War For The Planet of The Apes.
Weta Digital was working closely with Ball on Mouse Guard and Andy Serkis was going to have a role on that film, we would not be shocked if Serkis returned for Planet of The Apes 4. However, Serkis playing new chimpanzee role within the franchise could mimic how Roddy McDowall played both Cornelius and Caesar in the original string of films.
Folks unfamiliar with the original Planet of The Apes movies might be unaware that the modern trilogy really only covered pics such as Conquest of The Planet of The Apes and Battle For The Planet of The Apes, stories that don’t take place in the original timeline of the first two movies which is nearly 2,000 years in the future from the settings we’ve recently seen.
If I’m 20th Century Studios and Wes Ball, I would be ready at this point to make the true time jump to the point were the apes are running their own evolved society (less primitive and speaking) and potentially seeing a group of astronauts crash land on this planet having to navigate a setting where humans are no longer the dominate species. Beneath The Planet of The Apes revealed a secret group of mutated humans have gained the ability of telepathy (something that nobody has tackled since that installment), which could be an interesting spin as it’s not just a straight rehash of the original 1968 film and Tim Burton’s misguided reboot from 2001 starring Mark Wahlberg with fantastic makeup from Rick Baker.
Speaking of Wahlberg, we have our fingers crossed that Wes Ball hires someone with a little more age/skill to play a lead human role such as Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian, Game of Thrones, The Last of Us) for potential roles of Colonel George Taylor or John Brent.
It was revealed he would be reuniting with production designer Daniel Dorrance ((A Good Day To Die Hard, Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, Maze Runner: The Death Cure, The Expendables 3) on Planet of The Apes 4.
We have to assume that Ball will also bring on Maze Runner: The Death Cure cinematographer Gyula Pados (Predators, Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, Jumanji: The Next Level), who has been working on David F. Sandberg’s DC Comics sequel Shazam! Fury of The Gods in Atlanta. Pados having extensive experience with exterior shoots would certainly make his addition to the project an asset.
How far along Planet of The Apes 4 is at the moment is unknown and when they hope to begin shooting.