How to Do the ‘Dawn of the Planet of the Apes’ Sequel Right

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Dawn of War for the Planet of the Apes 2016 How to Do the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Sequel Right

After overcoming the odds and successfully rebooting the Planet of the Apes franchise with 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Fox had set high expectations for the sequel. As one of the most anticipated releases of this year, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes not only impressed critics (read our review) – it impressed the general moviegoing public, as well. In many people’s eyes, Matt Reeves has crafted the latest great cinematic sequel, with the film drawing comparisons to classics such as The Empire Strikes Back and The Dark Knight.

The studio staked out a release date for a third installment even before Dawn hit theaters, and now that the middle chapter has generated such an enthusiastic response, fans will be eagerly awaiting for their return to the post-apocalyptic wasteland that Caesar (Andy Serkis) and his ape clan call home. While there have been plenty of great “threequels” over the years (we’ve even counted them down), most film buffs are aware that third films in a beloved franchise tend to be the weak link in the chain. For every Return of the King or Toy Story 3, there’s a Spider-Man 3 or an X-Men: The Last Stand waiting to spoil the fun.

As fans of the first two movies in the series, we obviously would prefer if the upcoming follow-up falls into the category of “great part threes” as opposed to throwing away the goodwill that has been so strongly established. With Reeves at the helm once more, the third film is already shaping up nicely, but as we did with the Star Wars spin-offs and the Predator sequel, we decided to put on our producer hats and formulate a plan on how to do the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes sequel right. Again, this is all subjective, but we feel these tips will lead to an enjoyable trilogy capper.


War for the Planet of the Apes

July Movie Preview Dawn Planet of the Apes How to Do the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Sequel Right

During our Dawn of the Planet of the Apes podcast discussion, one thing our editorial team agreed on was that the third film should be titled War for the Planet of the Apes and chronicle the aftermath of the conflict Koba (Toby Kebbell) started. With tensions between apes and humans at a boiling point, this seems like a natural continuation of the narrative, and would be a spectacle to behold on the big screen.

The impending threat of the military’s arrival was something used in the film’s trailers, and it seemed as if Dawn was building up to that battle before the movie ultimately stopped short of it. It’s only right for the filmmakers to showcase that struggle and give audiences a thrilling war movie with hyper-intelligent apes at the center (think Saving Private Ryan with chimps). Exploring the emotional and physical trauma that war causes wouldn’t necessarily be new ground for a major Hollywood picture, but with Caesar as our moral compass, it would be very compelling – especially as circumstance push the Ape leader to make one final, decisive, decision about the fate of humanity.


Keep the Heady Themes

Caesar Andy Serkis and Koba Toby Kebbell in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes How to Do the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Sequel Right

With a title that makes it all about the war, it would be easy to craft a feature-length action sequence that displays non-stop set pieces. However, this is not the franchise’s forte. Ever since the 1968 original, Planet of the Apes has had a layer of intriguing social commentary that provided food for thought on top of genre thrills. This rebooted series has been no different, with Rise serving as a cautionary sci-fi tale about fixing things out of our control, and Dawn becoming an “anatomy of violence” that explored the human condition.

As Reeves and co-writer Matt Bomback return to pen the threequel’s script, this shouldn’t be a real issue but it is worth saying. Part of what has differentiated these films from similar tentpole titles is their dedication to tackling serious themes that add layers to the film and promote discussion. As a war between humans and apes drags on, tying the third installment to the previous movies (man’s hubris leads to his downfall) or opening new concepts (Caesar choosing to abandon his human upbringing once and for all) would help give the film a solid emotional core that rounds out the trilogy nicely.


Flesh out the Human Characters

Kirck Acavedo Kerri Russell Jason Clarke and Kodi Smit McPhee in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes How to Do the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Sequel Right

If there’s one unanimous critique of the new films, it’s that the human cast suffers from being underwritten in the scripts. Granted, Will Rodman (James Franco) and Malcolm (Jason Clarke) provided serviceable outlets for the audience – but many view the Homo sapiens as one-note. Given the franchise’s namesake, the focus should by and large be on the ape characters, but it wouldn’t hurt for the third film to develop the other side a little more. After all, Planet of the Apes was a vehicle for Charlton Heston and is viewed as a classic.

Dawn was a slight improvement from Rise, as Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) had a little more to him than Jacobs (David Oyelowo) or Dodge Landon (Tom Felton) from the first film. Still, some pundits felt the majority of humans were nothing more than glorified props, giving us reason to believe there’s still more work to be done. Audiences are supposed to identify with Caesar more than anyone else, but there are plenty of well-rounded “villains” in film history to draw from when designing an opponent. There’s no rule that says the apes have to be the only deep individuals. Spending a little more time with the human side could make for an even more compelling film – especially as the fight for humanity’s survival get desperate.


Don’t Lead Into the Original Film

Planet of the Apes Statue of Liberty How to Do the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Sequel Right

Since Rise of the Planet of the Apes was also positioned as a prequel to the 1968 original, many fans have been wondering how the events of these two movies relate to the one that started it all. However, Reeves and company would be better served if they treat their series as its own separate entity where anything can happen (like J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films). They’ve done a fantastic job at building an immersive world, so the sky should truly be the limit – instead of handcuffing the series to a pre-determined point.

Even if the end game is ultimately a remake of that seminal work (for better or worse), there isn’t need to rush it. In this continuity, the reign of the apes has only just begun, with Dawn taking place a decade after Rise. Reeves still has plenty of ground to cover with Caesar’s evolution into a military leader and the ultimate decimation of the human race. Completing our favorite ape’s arc should take precedence over forced connections to the older entries. Audiences have fully bought into this rebooted Apes universe. Keep playing in it.

Plus, as our own Kofi Outlaw mentioned, there’s an ideal marketing opportunity for a second trilogy waiting in the wings if the studio goes this route.



Dawn of he Planet of the Apes ending and spoilers How to Do the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Sequel Right

Ranking as one of the most acclaimed big-budget franchises of this era, the new Planet of the Apes films have certainly left their mark on the industry. With both passionate fans and professional critics looking forward to what comes next, one would hope that the filmmakers are using the added pressure of anticipation as a source of motivation to deliver another great film. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will  no doubt cement its status as one of the best offerings of 2014 when the year’s out. Following these steps could be the key to guaranteeing the third installment is one of the best of 2016.

Of course, our list is not meant to be all-inclusive, so be sure to tell us what you’d like to see in the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes sequel in the comments section below.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is now in theaters. Its sequel will be released on July 29, 2016.

Follow Chris on Twitter @ChrisAgar90.

Follow Chris Agar on Twitter @ChrisAgar90
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  1. i would possibly like to see time travel come in somewhere. if taylors ship lands in the future, have it land and not crash, so it may be able to go in the past and change things. i would also like some elaboration on the situation of how the rest of the world is. are their still some humans living somewhere else. and will the apes eventually live all over the planet. right now their just in an isolated area in northern cal.

    • It’s not time travel.. They were in deep space and because of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, when they returned (crash landed) to earth a lot more time had passed than they had perceived..

  2. I think the new films SHOULD lead into the original 1968 film, but I also think that they should take their time. WAR shouldn’t lead into the original film, but the ultimate endgame of the “reboots” should be to lead into the original. My one problem with the new Trek films is that they are going to be leading into the original series.

  3. In the rise of the planet of the apes you can see the story on the news, while they are watching the Tv in the ape sanctuary, about first mission to mars with a human crew, so obviously that is the link to the original movie. i think they are leading up the story to the 1968 movie finish

  4. How can the reboot series storyline tie in with the original series when they had a character in Rise watching the original Planet Of The Apes movie on TV? That looks to me like they are saying science fiction is now becoming science fact in this new world.

    • I tell you how: The mention of launching new space shuttle by NASA called Icarus on the news during “Rise”

      • I’d like to see James Franco’s character return. Part 3 can start with a brief perspective of what exactly happened to humans in those 10 years with Franco surviving & becoming apart of the Military that is sent to fight the Apes. He shows up right when Caesar severs ties with his human side after an important Ape is killed by humans. Pressure from Apes & humans puts them both in a dilemma in the midst of war


    • That was not Planet of the apes on the TV, it was another Charlton Heston movie called “The Agony and the Ecstasy” It is about Michaengelo

      • Ok. I guess I should have done some research about the movie clip. I assumed it was the original Planet Of The Apes the character was watching because he quoted the stinking filthy paws line from the movie.

    • Nobody was watching Planet of the Apes on TV. That was a different Charlton Heston film.

  5. How to do it right:

    At least one time in the movie, show the apes reloading their weapon, just so we all can confirm that they know how.

    Otherwise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, would have ending with the apes assault on the San Fran HQ… cause after they expending their 30 round clips in 4 seconds while riding horseback and shooting with unparalleled accuracy, they would have gotten completely slaughtered. Such a atrocious movie blunder., It completely implies that the creators think the viewers are completely stupid.

    • Yeah, that’s what makes a movie good. Stopping to take the time to show characters reloading their weapons. Ever notice how a lot of movies don’t show people going to the bathroom? They must think we’re idiots who don’t realize that these characters would obviously need to do that at some point. Well I’m not an idiot. I recognize that colossal blunder and I say no more! I will no longer tolerate these ridiculous movies that don’t show the minute details of life! I came here to see apes take over the world on horseback, and if I don’t also see them reloading their weapons while doing so, then it’s all ruined.

      • If you watch it properly. You will notice that yes, they do not reload, but did you not notice, everytime they ran out of bullets, they picked up a weapon from another dead ape/human. So they didnt ignore it completely. Just went about it in a different way.

  6. If they are smart they won’t remake the original.

    Icarus is supposed to be lost for 2 thousand years. There is so much new stuff they can do without having to remake the original.

    A gigantic War would seem like a pretty awesome 3rd movie.

    Also, who says that they have to stop after 3? They could do a forth movie that connects Post War Earth to the Planet of the Apes…ending with Icarus crashing back down.

    • Or Hollywood could keep making installments of this for 2000 years until we get to the 1968 movie :P

  7. This is a good article, and I hope Fox takes some of its points into account when crafting the next story. But War for the Planet of the Apes? That’s a pretty weak title. Hopefully, they’ll come up with something more imaginative than that.

    A correction: Rise and Dawn are not prequels to the originals. They’re a reboot. That much is very clear, since the timelines are entirely incompatible. Taylor left in 1973, not 2011. His team worked for ANSA, not NASA. They were heading out into deep space, not Mars. The ape revolution took place in 1991, not 2011. Charlton Heston films exist in this universe. Caesar has an entirely different origin. And so forth. The future is entirely open now, as the timeline does not lead to the 1968 film.

  8. Personally I think both films are prequels. We really didnt get to see the human race deteriorate in the originals and this could be the answer to that question. Even if it weren’t to be a reboot threequel it would be nice to get a post credit ship coming out of space as Caesar loos over the horizon for his next journey. You have to kind of include it. Bands don’t change the structure of songs when they remake them so neither should movies. I mean they only mentioned the astronauts in RISE you can’t really ignore it now. It would confuse fans who are dedicated. It was a great movie over all and had a great time. I loved how they didn’t put the apes in clothing and try to make them speak perfect English in just ten short years. I felt that in the originals they tried to humanize the apes which is a no no because that’s the scary part. THEY ARE APES!!!! So I enjoyed the sign language in the film and the sense of family. Now time to see what those guys in space are up to.

    • Agree 100% ! Would also like the following elaborated on : Not all the Apes in the California Red Wood forest are smart ( some were broken out of zoos and not from the lab or the facility were Caesar was held ) How did Caesar deal with some of the apes ” not ” exposed to the experimental Parkinson’s drug in the ten years leading up to ” Dawn ” ? Also interesting : Could Humans ,infected with the virus, pass it on to other apes and make them smart that way ? ( Other apes around the world ? ) Or is this small ” California-Based smart Ape colony ” unique and all alone in the world ?

      • It’s the same virus, so it’s likely as the virus spread throughout the world other apes would get infected and become intelligent as humans around the world that got infected died.

        You can’t have humans dying around the world from the virus without apes getting intelligent from the same virus that’s killing humans.

        • The virus was only a delivery mechanism for the drug. I do not believe the drug would be replicated with the virus as it spread, but anything is possible in a world with talking apes.

      • Remember Caesar inherited the intelligence from his mother through genetic mechanism. The apes from the zoos could still produce offspring that were super intelligent, even if they were not themselves, as long as the other parent was one of the smart apes.

  9. First and most important is if it is not going to tie into the 1968 movie then why waste the time making these 2 movies. These were trash. The whole idea of an ape vs human movie misses the point. MAN kills MAN. There is no ape vs man thing ever. There never was. It is only the writers in Hollywood that think there is one. The whole point of Ape shall never kill Ape is because the apes are supposed to have watched man kill each other for generations that the apes make the law in the first place. This was not a good reboot and even if there had never been the 1968 movie these would have been laughed out of the theater. This was a poor story poorly written. It could have been saved though. If Ceaser had stayed dead and Koba had gotten the Gorillas to support him as the ape army. Koba should have had the Ceaser loyalist killed immediately and then had a panel of Orangutans write the sacred scrolls starting with ape shall never kill ape, after, of course, he had his bloody coup. That would have fit more in line with the 68 movie. In the 68 movie you only like a few chimps and hate the rest of ape world. Somehow you have to get the viewer from loving the apes to hating them. My explanation would have done that. People would have wailed about the injustice, but look around you today. Don’t you see the hypocrisy and treachery everywhere? It would have been social commentary on the world today. Instead the writers took the easy way out and made a bad B movie with good visuals.

  10. Frankly I don’t care if the new Apes films lead directly into the original movie or not. Good storytelling is good storytelling. Reboot or prequel? Who cares. Enjoy the pictures for what they are without trying to pigeon-hole them. I don’t think the new films can possibly fit into the original series’ continuity as the rise of the apes was due to a time travel twist that landed intelligent chimps from Earth’s future into Earth’s past. By giving birth to an intelligent offspring, Cornelius and Zira caused the eventual creation of their simian civilization. In the new movies, medical experimentation was the genesis of the planet of the apes (which strikes me as a much better title for the 3rd film, BTW, than War For the POTA).

    • genesis of the planet of the apes ! Sounds better ,much better ! Loved the 1st 2 , can’t wait for the 3rd !

    • Actually in Escape Of The Planet of the Apes Cornelius and Zira changed ape history to some degree due to giving birth to Ceaser in the past (of course Cornelius and Zira didn’t name their son Ceaser they named him Milo).

      When Cornelius explained ape history to the human council there was no mention of Ceaser as even being a part of ape history because their son didn’t even exist in the past until Cornelius and Zira traveled into the past. That means the timeline was altered from Cornelius’ knowledge of it.

  11. something something human ape war something something nuclear holocaust something apes in nuclear shelter something something human mutants who can’t speak and have low IQs something something Ryan Gosling returns in space ship something something Goddam you all to hell! The End

  12. They should have used the original ending as the a stinger at the conclusion of the credits.

  13. These movies will not ever tie-in to the original series. It is a total reboot of the franchise,which is based on the novel by Pierre Boule. In the original film series, if you recall, the planet was destroyed at the end of the second release ‘Beneath the Planet of the Apes’ and screenwriter Paul Dehn was instructed to create a way to continue the franchise. He did this by having some ape characters escape in Taylor’s spacecraft and subsequently go back in time, creating a causal loop that leads to the development of more Apes films. This sort of worked but was obviously kind of awkward. In retelling the Apes story the new writers have cleverly avoided having to use this trick by starting with the rough equivalent of the third and fourth films from the original series, so that this franchise will eventually lead to the actual full-on ‘Planet of the Apes’ title as approximately the fourth or fifth film in the series. You know that it is coming, because of the specific reference to the disappearing spacecraft in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’. I guarantee you that that spacecraft had an astronaut named Taylor on board…

  14. i like some of your thoughts. i do like the element of time travel. taylor landing in the future apes world. mind blowing for me and taylor and brent ( beneath ). with time travel you can really go all over the place with the series figuratively and literally. but don’t crash the ship so you don’t have to do a stupid escape of the apes explanation. in closing i pretty much want the series to go on for ever like some super hero characters.

  15. I disagree that a final war should be the overall plot of the third entry. What they did with this sequel was focus on a new goal for the Apes. In “Rise”, the apes were freed and liberated by Caesar and of course, afterwards, most would think by the conclusion to that film that the humans would continue a fight against the Apes. However, that didn’t happen, what they did for the sequel was borrow ideas from the original films and the flu virus causing a major issue for humans is what brought the Apes into a position of defending what they’ve built.

    By the end of “Dawn”, it’s made clear that humans and apes cannot share the same place and a war will have to happen to determine who is fitter to survive. Where do you go from there?. For the third film, you need to focus now on establishing progression for the apes and this is where, you merge this third prequel into the original 1968 film. Apes are now talking, using technology and have far advanced their human counterparts.

    We should also have human enslavement and a Ape struggle for leadership that will either ensure their future or not.

  16. I think it’s pretty straightforward. There is a local war between the Apes and Humans in America. This sparks off a global nuclear war by accident (someone, probably an Ape for ironic narrative purposes, hits the nuclear button and the Russian or Chinese response is automatically set off) which the Apes survive by hiding underground (“Beneath the Planet of the Apes”). Some of the Humans who are left on the surface survive but are mutated by radiation so they have lower intelligence and lose the ability to talk. Then the original “Planet of the Apes” storyline kicks in with a returnee from the missing space ship mentioned in the first movie.

  17. mkay

  18. Briefly, I just want to say what a great job Jaffa, and the other writers did on this latest incarnation of the, “Planet of the Apes” concept. I believe Rod Serling would be proud. Very proud!

    I want to caution, however, about titling the next installment, “War of the Planet of the Apes”, and, more importantly, centering the entire plot around what I consider a weak title.

    My nightmare vision is that such a title and mind-set on the part of the director and writers of the third movie, might lead to some sort of ridiculous “Rambo” type of film. Please, please, don’t do THAT!

    I think those involved should perhaps respect the original sequels (as bad as they were in actuality), and go with something more like, well, “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes”.

    In other words, the same idea and premise as the original 70′s sequel by the same title, but better. That is, the apes, even under Caesar’s wise leadership, decide that humans are not to be trusted, and all out war is inevitable. (Of course, this has already been intimated and suggested in the second film.)

    “War of the Planet of the Apes” sounds trite, to say the least. Think about it. For the last almost fifty years, we’ve had a “War on Poverty”; a “War on Drugs”; a “War on Terrorism”, etc. Calling it the, “War of the Planet of the Apes” would be a mistake, in my opinion.

  19. I personally think they should lead in to the war of san fran but also across the world, because san fran itself is pretty insignificant compared to the whole world. They should have a giant war, basically kill most humans (some stay alive) and they have the option to make another series (kind of like the hobbit) where it explains what happened in the 10 years between Rise and Dawn with the viruses and how the apes spread across the world and/or a movie in the future where the few humans still alive slowly recreated mankind and they find the apes (somewhat like 1968).

    Also War for the planet of the apes… mehh

  20. I think that the next installment should come out in 2015. Dont wait till two years to release the third movie I think its kinda dumb to do.

  21. I would love to see them eventually get to the events of the original film, but please, above all else, don’t go Beneath the Planet of the Apes. Avoid Beneath; don’t go there. Or if they do, just do it way better.

  22. “War has… Already… begun” ~Ceaser

    WAR OF (possibly ‘for’)


  23. I think it should end lick the end of the one in 2001 after the credits

  24. I agree with those who say the 3rd film doesn’t need to rush into anything concerning a possible tie in to the ’68 original. The missing astronauts from “Rise” HAVE TO BE brought back into the story at some point though, otherwise the writers are truly missing out on some exciting material….but it doesn’t have to be in the 3rd film.

    What this 3rd film needs(in addition to fleshing out the human characters a little more, as this article talked about) is a new, third antagonist introduced. Be it a natural disaster that threatens the Earth itself, or some kind of threat that gives depth to the story involving apes and humans. War is imminent, apes and humans can’t live together and each society struggles within itself to survive and trust…we get that. More films about simply ape vs human conflict will get tiring.

    I’d like to see a third element introduced. I’d also like to see the scale broadened a bit. Caesar is obviously the focal point, but this is scirnce fiction too…hopefully the writers aren’t afraid to widen the scope and eventually move on from some of the characters that have dominated thusfar.

    Thats all i got. Great article btw. Some valid points made.

  25. I would like to see James Franco’s character return to the equation. Would bring a lot of people into the theater and also round out the story nicely since he was involved in creating Ceaser. But getting Franco would be hard as I’m sure he has more than a full list of movies on his plate. Who knows? Would be nice idea though.

    • Agree ! James Franco returning for the 3rd movie would be great ! They also need to show if there are indeed ” other smart apes ” in the world ( not just the smart tribe ruled by Caesar in California ) If so, they need to explain how they acquired their intelligence ( aerosols , infected by sick humans , other? ) If other bands of surviving humans do arrive , the Apes will need to seek out other smart apes to balance the power ( If there are any? ) There are so many possibilities , which makes pondering the 3rd movie that much better ! Apes will need to master the art of electronic communication ! Transportation ?

      • What do you mean if there are other smart apes throughout the world?

        The virus traveled the world killing humans, right?

        Then logically the virus also infected other apes around the world as well and made them intelligent.

        How can you have the virus kill humans on a worldwide scale without it giving intelligence to apes around the world?

        You can’t have the virus do one thing to humans without it doing the other to apes.

        • You would not be able to have all the other apes team up with the calefornian ones, as they can’t communicate. Apesi n Africa wouldn’t use sign language, they might use some african languages though, but they would not be able to meet with the other american apes due to a big ass ocean.

          The apes could not start using electricity, even the humans struggeled rebuilding society, how are apes without any prior knowledge or education supposed to build a modern-like society?

  26. As I see it with the spreading of the virus also Apes arround the world became infected and intelligent. I would suggest sort of a plot twist and don’t make it about the war between humans and apes. Caesar has established his own kingdom, where apes live by his rules, apa does not kill ape and that they seek peace with humans rather then war or revenge. In the last movies Caesar realized that apes aren’t that different from humans after all and I would continue on that by introducing another intelligent Ape tribe. Make other Apes the greatest enemies in the third movie, Caesar could eventually even chose to make an at first unlikely alliance with the humans. That if they want to live both in peace they have to defeat these other apes. Enemies that decide to make a truce because of a bigger threat to both of them is actually the only way I see to come to an end where there is peace between Caesar and the Humans. Like Caesar says, the humans aren’t going to forgive them and if you want to make it sort of a happy ending where humans and apes live together you need to bring in a third factor that really forces them to work together. While working together against a mutual enemy the trust can come back. For example let a ape rescue a hunan that has fallen down, the ape gives the human a hand to get back up and they continue fighting side by side or something like that.

    Otherwise I really just hope that the humans get destroyed, because having some kind of ending in which there is peace because both sides are tired of the war or something like that isn’t realistic. Thats just a truce, both sides still don’t trust eachother then, so everybody knows there will be war again eventually.

  27. If you want any movie ending with the apes standing up, speaking fluently, using electricity and dominating not just America, but the entire planet without skipping over hundreds, if not a thousand years, you will need ALOT more movies.

    To ever get to that point, the apes needs to grow their population ALOT, which will take years, then discover that there are continents over the oceans, learn to use boats, electricity, build a huge society and actually remove all human threats on the american continent, while the europeans, asians and africans are rebuilding civilization.

    One movie could be about just that, a rebuilt human society in Eurasia discovering the ape civilization in america, if they get to that point.

  28. What i want to see in the next film is another timeskip. i dont want it to pick up right from where dawn left off. if another ten years goes by before the next film it opens alot more possibilitys. first off the apes will be further advanced. caesar could be reaching old age and become more wise and just generally grow as a character, he might even die over the course of the movie allowing for his son to grow into a leader. with the war being ten years in it could follow their attempts to put an end to it and reach peace.