Matt Reeves' War for the Planet of the Apes is currently in theaters doing battle with Spider-Man: Homecoming, Dunkirk, and Girls Trip in the top 5 at the box office. The critically acclaimed movie has gotten a lot of attention for the brilliant acting performances, the motion-capture technology, and even the movie's score by Michael Giacchino has been getting rave reviews. But the latter is now drawing interesting comparisons to a video game by some eagle-eared internet detectives.
But what could possibly sound like Giacchino's score for War for the Planet of the Apes? The answer is 1988's Super Mario Bros. 2, specifically the theme music from the final stage while Mario is battling the evil Wart, throwing turnips at him. Yes, this sounds like a strange claim to make, but Shake the Box's YouTube channel figured it all out and it sounds remarkably similar, leading some fans to deem it "Wart" for the Planet of the Apes. The legendary (and really weird) Nintendo game came out in 1988 when Giacchino was 21-years old, so it's not out of the question that he could have played the game and had some of the music creep into his subconscious.
The video first plays the music from War for the Planet of the Apes and then the Super Mario Bros. 2 music separately. Both themes are playing a descending scale, but Mario's is a tad faster, so the video uploader slowed down the Mario theme a few bpm and then played it on top of the Apes theme. The chord changes are identical during the descending part and it matches up perfectly. The only real change is that Mario adds a few extra notes at the end, but other than that, they are pretty much the same thing.
This isn't super uncommon in Western music. There's only so many chord progressions or melodies that sound good together. Almost all of popular music relies heavily on the same chord progressions because they sound pleasing to the ear, but sometimes the melodies on top are a little too close for comfort, resulting in lawsuits. Now this particular case is pretty darn close and it would be interesting to see if Giacchino did this on purpose to pay homage to a weird Super Mario Bros. game.
Super Mario Bros. 2 was one of the most anticipated sequels to ever be released for the Nintendo Entertainment System, but has since become the black sheep of the Mario franchise. The reason for that is because the game wasn't originally a Mario game at all, it was called Dream Factory. Nintendo released a sequel to Super Mario Bros. in Japan, but the game was deemed too hard for North America, so Nintendo ported the Mario characters directly into the Dream Factory game. It wasn't until 1993 that North America got to play the original Super Mario Bros. 2, which was called the Lost Levels on the Super Nintendo game, Super Mario All-Stars.
We may never know the truth behind the similarities between the score of War for the Planet of the Apes and Super Mario Bros. 2. Hopefully the internet detectives don't just stop with the similarities and keep the case going. Let's get some witnesses to the stand to figure this out once and for all. You can judge for yourself in the video below. Unconscious theft? Playful homage? Or coincidence?