It wasn’t long after Rise of the Planet of the Apes revitalized the 44-year old Planet of the Apes franchise that Fox rehired Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver to work on the script for a followup, now known as Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Frequent Steven Soderbergh collaborator Scott Z. Burns (who wrote Contagion and the director’s next film, The Bitter Pill) was later brought onboard to pen a new draft.
However, that was before Rise director Rupert Wyatt decided to pass on Dawn. It didn’t take long for Fox heads to draw up a shortlist of replacements, with the top choice being Matt Reeves. Reports emerged shortly thereafter that Reeves has indeed been set as director on the project, which has Andy Serkis reprising his lauded motion-capture performance as the revolutionary simian Caesar.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes juxtaposes Caesar’s coming-of-age (or evolution, if you will) with the beginning of humanity’s downfall. The followup will continue to develop those narrative threads, as the brain-enhancing virus engineered by Will Rodman (James Franco) starts to ravage the global human population, setting the species on an unavoidable collision course with their increasingly-powerful simian brethren (who are immune to the virus’ terminal side effects).
The latest update concerning pre-production on Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is that Mark Bomback has been recruited to retool the script. Heat Vision attributes the reason for the Live Freed or Die Hard screenwriter being hired to “the studio and producers wanted something tailored for Reeves,” much like Burns’ draft was written with Wyatt in mind. Bomback has become a go-to script doctor for Fox, having also done revisions on the screenplays for next year’s The Wolverine and the stalled 24 movie (not to mention, he did uncredited work on Rise of the Planet of the Apes).
Wyatt wanted to incorporate elements from the war and espionage genres in Dawn, similar to how Rise blends prison escape thrills with a cautionary tale about the hubris of man. Reeves likewise prefers to combine aspects from different genre films, be it mixing found-footage with a monster movie (Cloverfield) or vampire horror with a first-love story (Let Me In). Hence, Reeves might not deviate too far from Wyatt’s original creative vision.
It’s reasonable to assume that – based on his past work, including Unstoppable and Total Recall (2012) – Bomback is heightening the action quotient in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. However, that also raises concerns that Bomback’s script might exorcise some of the intellectual substance from previous drafts; similar worries have already been raised about Bomback’s revised take on Christopher McQuarrie’s Wolverine screenplay (though, for the time being, that’s based on speculation and nothing more).
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is scheduled for release on May 23rd, 2014.