Get ready for a return to the Planet of the Apes.
Disney’s acquisition of Fox marked a seismic shift in the industry at large. While moviegoers were focused on how it would affect the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the deal also resulted in a major consolidation of the studio system. Suddenly, one of the biggest studios in cinema history was gone.
Since then, many industry pundits have pondered how Disney would change the company formerly known as Fox going forward. One way is eliminating the “Fox” name from newly renamed divisions 20th Century Studios and Searchlight Pictures. But, as we’ve already learned, Disney is also canceling some projects and dusting off some old Fox properties, such as Planet of the Apes.
The decades-long history of the ‘Planet of the Apes’ series
For years, the Planet of the Apes franchise served as one of Fox’s most reliable. The 1968 sci-fi thriller starring Charlton Heston remains a beloved landmark for the genre. But lesser known are the four sequels, live-action TV series, and animated series that built on its success in the following years.
Planet of the Apes even sustained a profitable though ill-received 2001 remake. That Tim Burton movie was intended to relaunch the series, but sequel plans fizzled out soon thereafter. For a good decade, the remake drained the franchise of its audience goodwill. But you can’t keep a good ape down apparently.
In 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes brought the series roaring back to life. Surprising both fans and critics, this reboot brought a fresh take to the franchise. That film and its two sequels told the story of Caesar (Andy Serkis), leader of the ape revolution, and how his species come to dominate Earth.
Is the new film the first of many former Fox franchise reboots?
Although the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy told a contained story, many fans hoped a new film could continue on. Alas, Disney announced development on a new Planet of the Apes. Despite some early confusion about how the film will fit in with its predecessors, it’s becoming clear writer/director Wes Ball’s (The Maze Runner) film will once again reboot the series.
In today’s day and age, news of yet another franchise reboot isn’t exactly earth-shattering. However, considering how well-received the recent trilogy was, taking this approach with Planet of the Apes is puzzling at best. Likely, Disney is opting to start fresh with the series following its Fox acquisition. But by this rationale, this reboot could be the first of several on the way.
Prior to its Disney acquisition, Fox had a number of fan-favorite franchises to its name. So how many of these is the House of Mouse intending to reboot? We already know Disney+ is working on a Home Alone reboot. Then Disney has a Die Hard television series in the works, which will focus on a young John McClane.
The MCU will introduce its own version of the X-Men soon enough. And an Ice Age TV series is on its way for Disney+. But we still don’t know what 20th Century Studios is planning for other popular Fox series such as Alien, Alvin and the Chipmunks, Night at the Museum, or Independence Day. With the notable exception of Avatar, moviegoers could be in for a flood of reboots to series they’ve enjoyed for years or even decades.
Why rebooting ‘Planet of the Apes’ now is the best-case scenario
If this is really how 20th Century Studios plans to tackle Fox properties, then Planet of the Apes might have gotten off easy. Many fans consider the Serkis-led trilogy a high point for the series. And rebooting it now will at least keep the sanctity of that trilogy intact.
Rather than diluting what director Rupert Wyatt and Matt Reeves accomplished, a new Planet of the Apes will live or die on its own merits. Truly, the series doesn’t really need another reboot. But to be fair, we still don’t know much about what Ball and his team have in store for us.
After all, no one thought Rise of the Planet of the Apes could reinvent the franchise in such an innovative way. Perhaps — against all odds — a new Planet of the Apes will justify its own existence. Considering all the reboots coming from 20th Century Studios, we can only hope this is the case.