Fox’s Planet of the Apes requel (i.e. rebooting prequel), Rise of the Planet of the Apes, was a surprise critical darling, thanks largely to Andy Serkis’ motion-capture performance as Caesar – the genetically-enhanced chimp who evolves into a Che-like revolutionary for ape-kind – and the direction by Rupert Wyatt. That paved the way for the film to gross $482 million worlwide, ensuring that this particular sci-fi franchise would live on to see another day (at the box office, namely).

Serkis is reprising as Caesar in the followup arriving in 2014, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but Wyatt has been replaced by Matt Reeves (of Cloverfield and Felicity Let Me In fame). Filming on the next installment in the Planet of the Apes series has been ongoing for a while now, on location in New Orleans, Louisiana, and up north in Vancouver, BC.

Despite that, we’ve only just gotten an official press release from Fox, confirming that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has begun principal photography; on the plus side, that release includes an official synopsis and full cast list.

UPDATE: Check out the movie’s official logo (click for larger version):

You can read them below:

Twentieth Century Fox announced that principal photography is underway on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.  A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier.  They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.

Andy Serkis, celebrated for his performance in the last film, reprises his role as Caesar. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes also stars Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty, Public Enemies, The Great Gatsby), Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight Rises, The Harry Potter film series), Keri Russell (The Americans, Mission Impossible III), Toby Kebbell (The Prince of Persia, Wrath of the Titans, Rock N Rolla), Kodi Smit-McPhee (Let Me In, ParaNorman), Enrique Murciano (Traffic, Black Hawk Down), Kirk Acevedo (The Thin Red Line) and Judy Greer (The Descendants, Three Kings, 13 Going on 30).

We previously heard that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes actually picks up closer to 15 years after Rise…, with the aforementioned “band of human survivors” including a group of scientists who are struggling to stay alive in a devastated San Francisco (i.e. Caesar’s childhood home). Moreover, Oldman is playing the leader of the human resistance, and Greer is donning a mo-cap suit to portray Caesar’s companion and romantic interest, the female chimp Cornelia.

However, the official press release confirms that James Franco won’t be returning as Caesar’s adopted dad, Dr. Will Rodman, the man responsible for engineering the virus that devastated humanity. Instead of continuing the father-son drama, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will focus on Caesar experiences as the leader of ape society, when he learns to appreciate Shakespeare’s observation that “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.”

The initial script draft for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was penned by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver – who were also responsible for the Rise… screenplay – but it was given a subsequent rewrite by Mark Bomback, after Reeves came aboard to direct.

It’s not yet apparent just how substantial Bomback’s revisions to Jaffa and Silver’s script were; though, it’s possible he only made cosmetic changes based on Reeves’ instructions, rather than heavily rework elements of the previous draft (that same question lingers over Bomback’s revised script for The Wolverine). Hopefully, the combination of new writing input and a different director, ultimately, benefits this anticipated Planet of the Apes flick.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens in U.S. theaters on May 23rd, 2014.