Thanks to the Fox buyout, Disney is taking the reins of the Planet of the Apes franchise, with The Maze Runner director Wes Ball stepping behind the camera. Ball recently opened up about when he expects to get back to work on his Planet of the Apes movie, and what the working environment will be like amid the ongoing global circumstances.
"The truth is, my heart goes out to everyone and the times we're living in are obviously historical. We'll be looking at these moments taught in schools in 20, 30, 50 years. So I'm trying to make the best of it and trying to understand the moment we're living through. As my job, I see it as being an entertainer and storyteller who tries to give people an escape from their everyday lives. That's still very much on my mind, still very much my motivation and directive."
Work on the new movie was shut down due to health and safety regulations and social distancing sanctions, but this has not stopped Ball from working on his Planet of the Apes movie entirely, with the director even able to continue his creative efforts with his collaborators to some extent.
"We were in the development phase. So we're writing. I was already meeting with my writer Josh Friedman on Zoom for weeks before this all hit. We already had a routine of jumping on Zoom and chatting about the script. In that sense, nothing has really changed. What I found a little bit myself is that I've been incredibly bursting with ideas in this time. I guess maybe because of being locked up? I'm pretty fortunate that I have an escape. I have a loft that I share with my screenwriter buddy T.S Nowlin - so it's kind of a little retreat from home to go and try to be creative, productive, and work on my projects."
When filming is once again able to commence, Wes Ball sounds very eager and excited to be making a Planet of the Apes movie under the wide-reaching Disney banner.
"Disney has an insane marketing department. Their ability to distribute movies and make money off them, with theme parks and such and just their whole strategy is about great stories, well-told and done to the nines. It was fun to even just imagine being a part of that kind of apparatus. We were already deep in Mouse Guard when that happened essentially. For that year and a half when we were developing Mouse Guard, we were aware of the merger but, legally and contractually, were not allowed to talk about it. The merger hadn't gone through and there could be all this lawyer stuff basically. So for us it was: head down, keep working forward and make something cool."
It sounds like Ball's addition to the epic sci-fi franchise may have fallen victim to the ongoing delays earlier than most, with the Fox and Disney merger adding to the backstage drama.
"Unfortunately when the deal did go through, that's when both companies were still trying to figure out a little bit about how they meshed and married together. It's like two gigantic organisms, 20th Century Fox and Disney, that have wildly different cultures. These entities have to find a way to become one family. It's a marriage, so that doesn't happen overnight. For the last year or two, that's been progressing forward. There have been a lot of shake-ups, obviously, with a lot of people that I'm personally great friends with. Many have left and that has kind of disbanded the Fox company, which is essentially what I consider my home. That is where I was writing my first three movies. I knew everyone there, from the creative executives all the way up to the marketing and distribution department. I knew everyone there and that's all shaken up now."
Regardless of all that is going on both behind the curtain and around the world right now, Ball's enthusiasm to continue the Planet of the Apes story is clear, with the director more than ready to go back to work when the situation allows.
The most recent movies in the Planet of the Apes franchise ended back in 2017 with the exemplary blockbuster War for the Planet of the Apes. In War for the Planet of the Apes, the third chapter of the critically acclaimed blockbuster franchise, Caesar and his apes are forced into a deadly conflict with an army of humans led by a ruthless Colonel. After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind. As the journey finally brings them face to face, Caesar and the Colonel are pitted against each other in an epic battle that will determine the fate of both their species and the future of the planet.
War for the Planet of the Apes was directed by Matt Reeves and written by Mark Bomback and Reeves. A sequel to 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes and 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the movie concludes the reboot/prequel trilogy and the journey of ape-leader Caesar. The movie stars Andy Serkis as Caesar, alongside Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Karin Konoval, Terry Notary, Ty Olsson, Amiah Miller, Gabriel Chavarria, and Toby Kebbell.
The reboot trilogy was met with both critical and financial success, and rumors continue to swirl as to whether the Disney additions to the franchise will be another reboot or whether it will continue the same world and the story of Serkis' hugely popular ape-leader Caesar. Whilst specific details still remain under wraps, earlier this year director Wes Ball attempted to clear things up saying, "Don't worry. I won't ruin the surprises, but it's safe to say Caesar's legacy will continue..."
Considering the ending of War for the Planet of the Apes it is difficult to see how Caesar himself will return, but there are certainly ways in which the foundations of the story can continue to be built upon. This comes to us courtesy of Discussing Film.