We reported a few weeks ago that Fox had set a release date for its upcoming prequel and now the studio has found their leading man. Deadline New York is reporting that James Franco has come aboard to star in Rise of the Apes for Fox.

Franco would play a young scientist who has a key role in the conflict that started between the apes and humans. The film will be set in present-day San Francisco where a string of genetic experiments leads to apes becoming intelligent and creating a power struggle between the apes and humans.

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Rupert Wyatt is directing the film from a script by Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa. The film will start production on July 5 and Fox has already set a June 24, 2011 release date for the film.