War for the Planet of the Apes
Caesar, with a rifle and Nova behind his back, on a horse with the film
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMatt Reeves
Written by
Based on
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyMichael Seresin
Edited by
Music byMichael Giacchino
Production
companies
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • July 10, 2017 (2017-07-10) (SVA Theatre)[1]
  • July 14, 2017 (2017-07-14) (United States)
Running time
140 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$150–152 million[3][4]
Box office$490.7 million[3]

War for the Planet of the Apes is a 2017 American science fiction action film[5] directed by Matt Reeves from a screenplay by Reeves and Mark Bomback, and produced by Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. It is the sequel to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), and the third installment in the Planet of the Apes reboot franchise.[6] It stars Andy Serkis as Caesar, alongside Woody Harrelson and Steve Zahn. In the film, conflict between apes and humans has escalated into full war, and Caesar sets out to avenge those he has lost.

Development for War for the Planet of the Apes began in January 2014, after 20th Century Fox viewed Reeves' cut of its predecessor; his return was soon confirmed, along with Bomback's. A conditional 2016 release date was announced in May 2015, which led to a closer and faster pre-production relationship between writer and director. The film shares similarities to Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), with emphasis on the impact of psychosocial development and interaction of apes and humans. Casting began in August 2015 and finished that October, with principal photography commencing soon thereafter and concluding in March 2016, with filming locations including Lower Mainland and the Kananaskis Range.

War for the Planet of the Apes premiered on 10 July 2017 at the SVA Theatre in New York City, and was theatrically released worldwide by 20th Century Fox on 14 July.[7] The film received critical acclaim, with praise for Reeves' direction, Serkis' performance, visual effects, themes, emotional weight, Michael Giacchino's score, and Michael Seresin's cinematography. War for the Planet of the Apes was a commercial success, grossing $490 million, and received numerous awards and nominations, including nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Special Visual Effects at the 90th Academy Awards and 71st British Academy Film Awards, respectively.[8][9] A sequel, titled Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, is in development with a release date set for 2024.[10]

Plot

Caesar and his tribe of intelligent apes[N 1] are at war with a human militia called Alpha-Omega led by a ruthless colonel. The militia employs servile apes derogatorily called "donkeys". A platoon fails to destroy an ape outpost and several soldiers are captured, such as Preacher and a "donkey" named Red. Caesar releases the humans, hoping to show the colonel that his tribe wants peace; Red escapes by injuring the gorilla Winter.

Caesar's eldest son Blue Eyes and friend Rocket return from a desert and report about a place that is ideal for a safer home. The colonel leads a team in infiltrating the apes' home that night, killing Caesar's wife and Blue Eyes after mistaking him for Caesar. The apes are unable to find Winter, who betrayed them and had purposefully let Red go.

As the tribe gathers to journey to safety, Caesar leaves his youngest son in care and departs to serve as a decoy for the others. Accompanied by Rocket, orangutan Maurice and gorilla Luca, they find a soldier in a village. Caesar kills him in self-defense and they find the soldier's young daughter, a mute girl whom Maurice befriends, giving her a rag doll.

They find Winter serving as a "donkey" at a militia camp; he informs them that the colonel has left and attempts to call out for help, but the other apes restrain Winter and Caesar accidentally suffocates him. The apes also discover humans shot and left for dead by the militia. A dying man reveals that he is mute like the girl.

Caesar's group chase someone who has stolen one of their horses and are surprised to see that he is another intelligent ape named Bad Ape. Bad Ape informs them that Alpha-Omega is at a quarantine facility with an arsenal in the mountains. Attempting to get close, Luca is killed and Caesar is captured. Caesar learns that Alpha-Omega captured his tribe and are forcing them to build a defensive wall.

Caesar deduces that the militia is barricading the facility to fend off the United States army. The colonel explains that the simian flu has mutated and the infected become mute and devolve, and he had elected to kill his son and other carriers before they could infect other people. The U.S army is searching for a cure through the manipulation of nature again and will try to stop the colonel by force. The colonel publicly starves Caesar to force the tribe to work. The mute girl, named Nova by Maurice, sneaks into the facility to give Caesar water and her doll. Rocket allows himself to be captured to prevent Nova from being seen. The colonel later confiscates the doll.

Caesar and Rocket manage to free the apes via an underground tunnel leading out of the facility. As the facility comes under attack by the army, Caesar sneaks into the colonel's quarters and is about to shoot him, but realizes the colonel has become mute after handling the doll. Caesar leaves and the colonel instead commits suicide.

The escaping apes are caught in the crossfire. Caesar attempts to blow up a fuel tank to take out the militia from behind, but is shot by Preacher. Red has a change of heart and kills Preacher but is immediately killed by another soldier. This allows Caesar to blow up the tank, triggering an avalanche that kills Alpha-Omega and the army while the apes carry Nova and survive by climbing nearby trees.

The apes and Nova cross the desert and reach an oasis. As Maurice and Caesar watch Nova and Caesar's son play in their new home, Maurice discovers Caesar's wound. He promises Caesar that his son will know who Caesar was and what he did for the apes before Caesar dies.

Cast

Production

Development

Matt Reeves, Andy Serkis and Dylan Clark at New York Comic-Con 2016 for the War for the Planet of the Apes panel
Matt Reeves, Andy Serkis and Dylan Clark at New York Comic-Con 2016 for the War for the Planet of the Apes panel

After seeing his cut of Dawn, 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment signed Matt Reeves to return as director for a third installment of the reboot series. In January 2014, the studio announced the third film, with Reeves returning to direct and co-write along with Bomback, and Peter Chernin, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver serving as producers.[23][24] During an interview in mid-November 2014 with MTV, Andy Serkis said they did not know the next film's setting. "...It could be five years after the event. It could be the night after the events of where we left Dawn."[25] In May 2015, the title was first given as War of the Planet of the Apes.[26] By October 2015, it had been retitled as War for the Planet of the Apes.[15]

When director Reeves and screenwriter Bomback came on board to helm Dawn, the film already had a release date, which led to an accelerated production schedule. However, with the third installment, Fox wanted to give the duo plenty of time to write and make the film. Taking advantage of this, the two bonded with each other more than before.[27]

In interviews for Dawn, Reeves talked about the inevitable war Caesar would have with the humans: "As this story continues, we know that war is not avoided by the end of Dawn. That is going to take us into the world of what he is grappling with. Where he is going to be thrust into circumstances that he never, ever wanted to deal with, and was hoping he could avoid. And now he is right in the middle of it. The things that happen in that story test him in huge ways, in the ways in which his relationship with Koba haunts him deeply. It's going to be an epic story. I think you've probably read that I sort of described it where in the first film was very much about his rise from humble beginnings to being a revolutionary. The second movie was about having to rise to the challenge of being a great leader in the most difficult of times. This is going to be the story that is going to cement his status as a seminal figure in ape history, and sort of leads to an almost biblical status. He is going to become like a mythic ape figure, like Moses."[28]

Toby Kebbell, who portrayed Koba in Dawn, had expressed interest in reprising his role or performing as other characters.[29] Plans to include Koba in a larger role in the film were abandoned early, with Bomback saying, "If you stayed until the very end of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, you hear Koba's breathing. We did that to give us a tiny crack of a possibility that we could revive Koba if we wanted to. Very early on in spitballing, we realized there was nothing more to do with Koba—certainly nothing that would exceed what he had done in the last story. But we knew we wanted to keep him alive as an idea. In playing out the reality of what happened at the end of the last film, Caesar would be traumatized by having to kill his brother. That would have resonance, and we wanted to make sure that did not get lost. So the answer was that we could go inside Caesar's mind at this point and revisit Koba that way."[30]

Casting

In August 2015, Deadline reported that Gabriel Chavarria had been cast as one of the humans in the film.[31] In September 2015, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Woody Harrelson had been cast as the film's antagonist, and that Chavarria's role was supporting.[13] In October 2015, TheWrap reported that Steve Zahn was cast as a new ape in the film.[15] It was also announced that actress Amiah Miller was cast as one of the film's humans, with Judy Greer and Karin Konoval reprising their roles as Cornelia and Maurice,[12][21] while Aleks Paunovic and Sara Canning were cast as new apes.[20][19]

Filming

Principal photography on the film began on 14 October 2015, in the Lower Mainland in Vancouver, under the working title Hidden Fortress.[32][33] Filming was expected to take place there until early March 2016.[34] Parts of the film were expected to shoot for up to five days in the Kananaskis in late January and early February.[35] In March, Serkis confirmed that he had finished shooting his portions.[36]

Visual effects

As with Rise and Dawn, the visual effects for War were created by Weta Digital; the apes were created with a mixture of motion-capture and CGI key-frame animation, as they were performed in motion-capture technology and animated in CGI.[37][38][39][40]

Influences

At New York Comic-Con 2016, Reeves explained that he and Bomback were influenced by many films before writing. He said, "One of the first things that Mark and I did because we had just finished Dawn was that we decided to watch a million movies. We decided to do what people fantasize what Hollywood screenwriters get to do but no one actually does. We got Fox to give us a theater and we watched movie after movie. We watched every Planet of the Apes movie, war movies, westerns, Empire Strikes Back... We just thought, 'We have to pretend we have all the time in the world,' even though we had limited time. We got really inspired."[41] According to Reeves, the treacherous apes being nicknamed "donkeys" is both a reference to the video game character Donkey Kong and the fact that they are used as "pack mules".[42]

Additionally, during production, Reeves and Bomback sought broader inspirations from films like The Bridge on the River Kwai and The Great Escape. Feeling that there was a need to imbue Biblical themes and elements, they also watched Biblical epics like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments. The influences and inspirations were made evident in the relationship between Caesar and Woody Harrelson's Colonel, a military leader with pretensions toward godhood. Reeves has compared their relationship to the dynamic between Alec Guinness's British Commander and Sessue Hayakawa's prison camp Colonel in Bridge on the River Kwai. Another comparison is in Caesar's journey to find the Colonel, flanked by a posse of close friends—a situation Reeves explicitly tied to Clint Eastwood's war-weary soldier in The Outlaw Josey Wales.[27] Influences from the film Apocalypse Now, notably Harrelson's character and his Alpha-Omega faction being similar to Colonel Kurtz's renegade army, were also noted by several journalists.[43][44][45] Harrelson has also acknowledged the similarities and inspiration.[46]

Music

War for the Planet of the Apes
Soundtrack album by
Released7 July 2017 (Digital)
21 July 2017 (Physical)
Recorded2017
GenreFilm score
LabelSony Masterworks
Michael Giacchino film scores chronology
Spider-Man: Homecoming
(2017)
War for the Planet of the Apes
(2017)
Coco
(2017)

On 17 October 2015, it was confirmed that Michael Giacchino, the composer and writer of the soundtrack for Dawn, would return to compose War's score.[47] The soundtrack was digitally released to iTunes and Amazon on 7 July 2017,[48] and in its physical form by Sony Masterworks on 21 July 2017.

Release

The film was initially set for a 29 July 2016, release. However, in January 2015, Fox postponed the film's release date to about a year later on 14 July 2017.[49][7]

Marketing

Special behind-the-scenes footage for the film was aired on TV on 22 November 2015, as part of a contest announcement presented by director Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis.[50] The footage aired during The Walking Dead on AMC.[51][52] The announcement allowed winners to wear a performance-capture suit and appear in a scene as an ape.[53] The announcement was released on 20th Century Fox's official YouTube page later the same day.[54]

At a New York Comic Con special event on 6 October, Reeves, Serkis and producer Dylan Clark debuted an exclusive look at the film.[55]

Serkis has also mentioned that the film would be accompanied by a video game, for which he performed motion capture.[56] Titled Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier, the game was released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in fall 2017.[57]

Reception

Box office

War for the Planet of the Apes grossed $146.9 million in the United States and Canada and $343.8 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $490.7 million, against a production budget of $150–152 million.[3][4]

In North America, the film was projected to gross $50–60 million in its opening weekend;[58][59] however, given its acclaimed status and strong word-of-mouth, rival studios believed the film had the potential to debut as high as $70–80 million.[58][60][61] War was closely monitored by analysts while the summer was witnessing a decline in ticket sales, a situation that they blamed on franchise fatigue for an overabundance of sequels and reboots (such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Transformers: The Last Knight and The Mummy). However, box office analysts noted that well-reviewed films have tended to perform in-line with estimates (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming).[62][63][64] The film grossed $5 million from Thursday night previews at 3,021 theaters, up 22% from the $4.1 million earned by its predecessor, and $22.1 million on its first day. It went on to debut to $56.3 million, topping the box office, albeit with a 22% drop from Dawn's $72.6 million debut.[65][66] In its second weekend, the film grossed $20.9 million (a drop of 62.9%, more than the 50.1% fall Dawn saw), finishing 4th at the box office.[67] In its third weekend, the film made $10.5 million (dropping another 49.9%), finishing 6th at the box office. It was lower than the third weeks of both Rise ($16.1 million) and Dawn ($16.8 million).[68]

Critical response

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 94% approval rating based on 363 reviews, with an average rating of 8.2/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "War for the Planet of the Apes combines breathtaking special effects and a powerful, poignant narrative to conclude this rebooted trilogy on a powerful—and truly blockbuster—note."[69] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 82 out of 100 based on 50 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[70] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[71]

War for the Planet of the Apes received praise for the cast's performances (particularly Serkis'), Reeves' direction, visual effects, musical score, cinematography and its morally complex storyline.[72] Scott Collura of IGN awarded the film a score of 9.5 out of 10, saying: "War for the Planet of the Apes is an excellent closing act to this rebooted trilogy, but also one that does enough world-building that the series can potentially continue from here—and it's a rare case where, after three movies, we're left wanting more."[73] A. O. Scott of The New York Times said of the film, "War for the Planet of the Apes, directed by Matt Reeves, is the grimmest episode so far, and also the strongest, a superb example—rare in this era of sloppily constructed, commercially hedged cinematic universes—of clear thinking wedded to inventive technique in popular filmmaking," and lauded Andy Serkis's performance in the film, stating that "Andy Serkis's performance as Caesar is one of the marvels of modern screen acting."[74]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, and said that Serkis performed "with a resonant power and depth of feeling that's nearly Shakespearean. Oscar, get busy: Serkis deserves the gold," and went on to say that "War for the Planet of the Apes—No. 9 in the simian cinema canon—is the best of the Apes films since the 1968 original."[75] Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film a B+ rating, and praised Matt Reeves's directing, saying "It's a given that an expensive 21st-century sci-fi movie with talking animals, exploding tanks, and jarring machine guns would look and sound great, but Reeves applies these effects with such a measured strategy that they're always working in service of a greater narrative agenda." Kohn went on to applaud the visuals and musical score, stating that "The breathlessly paced montage of flying bullets and angry monkeys raining down on terrified men, aided by Michael Giacchino's vibrant score, is a strong indicator of the next-level craftsmanship that distinguishes these movies from so many cacophonous Hollywood spectacles; not only is the action easy to follow, but you care for the motion-captured characters at the center of it, while the humans cower in fear."[76]

Home media

War for the Planet of the Apes was released on Digital HD on 10 October 2017, and on Blu-ray and DVD on 24 October 2017, by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.[77]

Accolades

List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result Ref.
Golden Trailer Awards 6 June 2017 Best Motion/Title Graphics War for the Planet of the Apes: 20th Century Fox, Wild Card Nominated [78]
Best Summer 2017 Blockbuster TV Spot
Hollywood Film Awards 5 November 2017 Hollywood Visual Effects Award Dan Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, and Erik Winquist Won [79]
Hollywood Post Alliance 16 November 2017 Outstanding Visual Effects - Feature Film Dan Barrett, Anders Langlands, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, Luke Millar, Erik Winquist, and Weta Digital Won [80][81]
Teen Choice Awards 13 August 2017 Choice Movie: Summer 20th Century Fox Nominated [82]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association December 8, 2017 Best Motion Capture Performance Andy Serkis Won [83]
Best Motion Capture Performance Steve Zahn Nominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle December 10, 2017 Best Actor Andy Serkis Won [84][85]
Best Original Score Michael Giacchino Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society December 11, 2017 Best Visual Effects War for the Planet of the Apes Won [86]
Chicago Film Critics Association 12 December 2017 Best Original Score Michael Giacchino Nominated [87]
Seattle Film Critics Society 18 December 2017 Best Original Score Michael Giacchino Nominated [88][89]
Best Visual Effects Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Dan Barrett, and Joel Whist Won
Golden Tomato Awards 3 January 2018 Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movie 2017 War for the Planet of the Apes 2nd Place [90]
Houston Film Critics Society January 6, 2018 Best Actor Andy Serkis Nominated [91][92]
Best Original Score Michael Giacchino
Best Visual Effects War for the Planet of the Apes
Critics' Choice Movie Awards 11 January 2018 Best Action Movie War for the Planet of the Apes Nominated [93]
Best Visual Effects Won
Georgia Film Critics Association 12 January 2018 Best Actor Andy Serkis Nominated [94]
Best Original Score Michael Giacchino Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards 21 January 2018 Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture War for the Planet of the Apes Nominated [95][96]
Art Directors Guild January 27, 2018 Excellence in Production Design for a Fantasy Film James Chinlund Nominated [97]
Annie Awards 3 February 2018 Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Live Action Production Daniel Barrett, Sidney Kombo-Kintombo, Emile Ghorayeb, Luisma Lavin Peredo, and Alessandro Bonora Won [98]
Satellite Awards 10 February 2018 Best Film Editing William Hoy Won [99]
Best Original Score Michael Giacchino Nominated
Best Sound War for the Planet of the Apes Nominated
Best Visual Effects Nominated
Visual Effects Society Awards 13 February 2018 Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature Joe Letteri, Ryan Stafford, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joel Whist Won [100]
Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature Eteuati Tema, Aidan Martin, Florian Fernandez, Mathias Larserud for "Bad Ape" Nominated
Dennis Yoo, Ludovic Chailloleau, Douglas McHale, Tim Forbes for "Caesar" Won
Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature Chris McLaughlin, Ryan Salcombe, Seungjin Woo, Francesco Dell'Anna for "Hidden Fortress" Nominated
Phillip Leonhardt, Paul Harris, Jeremy Fort, Thomas Lo for "Prison Camp" Nominated
Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature David Caeiro Cebrian, Johnathan Nixon, Chet Leavai, Gary Boyle Won
Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature Christoph Salzmann, Robin Hollander, Ben Morgan, Ben Warner Won
British Academy Film Awards 18 February 2018 Best Special Visual Effects Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, and Joel Whist Nominated [8]
Golden Reel Awards 18 February 2018 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Dialogue / ADR Supervising Sound Editors: Douglas Murray, Will Files; Supervising Dialogue Editor: R.J. Kizer; Vocal Editors: Kim Foscato, P.K. Hooker, Doug Jackson, Lindsay Alvarez; ADR Editors: Laura Graham, and Jim Brookshire Won [101]
Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Effects / Foley Supervising Sound Editors: Douglas Murray, Will Files; Sound Effects Editors: David Grimaldi, Jack Whittaker, Ken McGill, P.K. Hooker, Doug Jackson, Lindsay Alvarez; Foley Editors: John Morris, Matthew Harrison, Thom Brennan, Willard Overstreet; Foley Artists: Dan O'Connell, and John T. Cucci Nominated [102]
International Film Music Critics Association Awards 22 February 2018 Score of the Year Michael Giacchino Nominated [103][104]
Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film Michael Giacchino Won
Film Music Composition of the Year "End Credits" from War for the Planet of the Apes by Michael Giacchino Won
Academy Awards 4 March 2018 Best Visual Effects Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, and Joel Whist Nominated [105]
Saturn Awards 27 June 2018 Best Science Fiction Film Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver Nominated [106]
Best Director Matt Reeves
Best Actor Andy Serkis
Best Special Effects Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Joel Whist

Sequel

According to screenwriter Rick Jaffa, a version of the spaceship from the 1968 Planet of the Apes under the name Icarus was in Rise of the Planet of the Apes as a deliberate hint to a possible sequel re-adapting the events of the original film, something the end of War also implies, featuring a younger version of the character Nova.[107] During an interview of Andy Serkis with MTV in mid-November 2014, Serkis talked about possible sequels: "It might be three films, It could be four. It could be five. Who knows? The journey will continue."[108] By October 2016, it was reported that a fourth Planet of the Apes film was being discussed.[109][110] Shortly before the release of War in July 2017, Reeves said that he expressed interest in making more Apes films and that Steve Zahn, who played Bad Ape in the film, had set up a story for further sequels.[111][112][113] Writer Mark Bomback hinted that more films would be possible, saying, "Truthfully, we haven't had those kinds of conversations. I've been working on these films for about seven years now. I'm ready to take a breather and let things rest a bit."[114] In April 2019, following the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney, Disney announced that future Planet of the Apes films are in development.[115][116][117][118][119][120] It was also confirmed in August 2019 that any future installments would take place in the same universe first established in Rise.[121]

On 3 December 2019, it was reported that Wes Ball is currently set to write and direct an untitled Planet of the Apes film.[122] On 17 February 2020, it was reported that the film will be produced by Joe Hartwick Jr. and David Starke. Later that same day, Ball confirmed that he would be directing the film, and that it would be set after the events of War, following "Caesar's legacy".[123][124] On 26 May 2020, Ball revealed that Josh Friedman will write the screenplay, while Jaffa and Silver will return as producers. He also said that, while the film will be set in the same universe as Rise, the film won't be a direct sequel to War, saying that the film "will feel" like a follow-up to the overall Rise trilogy, but at the same time, the filmmakers will "do some really cool new stuff" for the film. Ball also said that the film could begin virtual production soon in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic due to it being a mostly CGI film.[125] In a March 2022 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, 20th Century Studios president Steve Asbell stated that production would start between the late summer or early fall of 2022.[126] In June 2022, filming expected to begin in August,[127][additional citation(s) needed] while Owen Teague was cast in the lead role the following month.[128] In September 2022, it was announced that the fourth movie in the current franchise would be titled Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, that Freya Allan was cast as the human lead with Peter Macon co-starring, and that the film would be released in 2024. Wes Ball has been tabbed to direct the film, and it will pick up many years after the end of War for the Planet of the Apes.[10][129][130]

Notes

  1. ^ As depicted in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014).[11]

References

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