After the considerable commercial and critical success of last summer’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it’s no surprise that 20th Century Fox recently announced that filming on Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2 could begin as early as this summer.
Cast and crew details are equally sparse. James Franco’s involvement remains up in the air, as does that of director Rupert Wyatt. However, Andy Serkis, who played the ape revolutionary leader, Caesar, in the first film, has confirmed that he will reprise his role. Serkis’ participation bodes well for the sequel, given that his nuanced, sympathetic portrayal of Caesar provided some of the most compelling material in Rise. This news is also somewhat surprising, since Serkis also plays a principle role in Peter Jackson’s upcoming two-part film The Hobbit. If production of the Rise sequel does indeed get underway later this year, he will have to juggle two substantial, time-consuming acting commitments.
The open-endedness of Rise means that a sequel could take the story in virtually any direction. Presumably, it would again focus largely on Caesar and his fellow genetically-enhanced primate fugitives, but would it pick up immediately where the first film left off? If so, it may deal with the rapidly-spreading pandemic unwittingly created by Franco’s character, which by implication causes the near-extinction of humans while turning apes into super-geniuses.
The sequel could also take place sometime later, as the scattered remnants of humanity struggle for survival against their hyper-intelligent simian overlords. Whatever the specifics, Fox obviously realizes the potential for a lucrative franchise, and will likely look to the original Planet of the Apes series for inspiration, or even future remakes. Therefore, this upcoming sequel will probably attempt to bridge at least some of the narrative gap between Rise and the Charlton Heston/Roddy McDowall original. With any luck, this revamped series won’t succumb to the convolution that plagued Tim Burton’s remake back in 2001.
The planned Rise of the Planet of the Apes sequel is expected to enter theaters sometime in the summer or fall of 2013.