Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is one of Screen Rant’s most anticipated movies of 2014, not least of all because Caesar – the super-chimp brought to vivid life through Andy Serkis’ great motion-capture performance – will get even more time in the spotlight than he did in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The teaser trailer (which premiered at Comic Con last summer) has only heightened expectations for Cloverfield director Matt Reeves’ addition to the sci-fi franchise.

Originally, Reeves was (unexpectedly) brought in to replace director Rupert Wyatt on the followup to Wyatt’s successful Planet of the Apes prequel/reboot. We’ve now learned that 20th Century Fox likes Reeves’ sequel work enough to have gone ahead and signed him up to co-write and direct the next Apes installment.

Deadline is reporting that Fox has begun screening a rough cut of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes for test audiences, so the obvious conclusion would be that early reactions have been quite positive thus far.

That’s good news for Fox, which is anticipating big returns from its dual tentpole releases this summer – Reeves’ Apes movie and Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past. Singer is already developing a followup to the latter (titled X-Men: Apocalypse) that is scheduled for 2016, so there’s a reasonable chance that Reeves has also begun working on Planet of the Apes 3 (its placeholder title for now) with a 2016 target in mind.

Reeves will co-write the next Planet of the Apes film with Mark Bomback, who did revisions on the original Dawn of the Planet of the Apes script draft (by Rise writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver) after Reeves committed to directing the sequel.

Matt Reeves filming ‘Let Me In’

Bomback did similar rewrites on Christopher McQuarrie’s original script for The Wolverine and the upcoming Fifty Shades of Grey movie, while Reeves’ past writing credits include the well-received Let Me In (the American remake of acclaimed Swedish vampire flick Let the Right One In) – a film that he also directed.

While the main human cast for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke and Keri Russell – is solid, they might not all be back in the third installment; their characters are expendable like James Franco in Rise, and Clarke might be headed to the Terminator franchise next.

Regardless, Serkis will definitely reprise as Caesar, and set photos from Dawn suggest that his mo-cap performance technique has only grown more sophisticated with practice and time – so don’t be surprised if his performance in Dawn is good enough to start an underground Oscar campaign (like his turn in Rise did).

Does Reeves being hired to direct Planet of the Apes 3 boost your confidence that Dawn of the Planet of the Apes will be a winner? Let us know in the comments section.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes releases in theaters on July 11th, 2014.

Planet of the Apes 3 (official title TBD) will probably be released in Summer 2016.

Source: Deadline