War of the Planet of the Apes – the next installment in 20th Century Fox’s rebooted Planet of the Apes film series – won’t reach theaters until Summer 2017. However, director Matt Reeves will get cameras rolling on the project in October 2015, in order to allow sufficient time for the extensive post-production work that is required for an Apes film (e.g. digitally inserting each ape).
Andy Serkis will be reprising as the ape Caesar in the film – with the current top priority being the casting of new human leads. The relative unknown Gabriel Chavarria has signed on for an undisclosed role in War of the Planet of the Apes, but he’s now been joined in the cast by a higher-profile actor; namely, Woody Harrelson.
THR is reporting that Harrelson has agreed to play a human villain in War of the Planet of the Apes; the character is known as The Colonel, but details beyond that remain under-wraps for the time being. Regardless, the movie’s title suggests there will be a major conflict between humankind and the apes – as humanity makes an effort to fully reclaim the planet – so it’s easy to see how Harrelson’s Colonel could be an antagonist.
The THR report also notes that Chavarria’s role in the film is “small” (according to the site’s insiders). It was previously reported that Chavarria had snagged one of the two human leads in War of the Planet of the Apes, but this update suggests one of those roles is still open. Additional news on that front should be arriving soon, what with principal photography gearing up to begin in the near future (at the time of writing this).
Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes did not rely on a clear-cut “good vs. evil” conflict to propel the story; everyone from the ape Koba (Toby Kebbell) to human Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) was portrayed as being morally ambiguous, yet at certain time sympathetic, in their actions and motivations. Ideally, that trend will continue with Harrelson in War of the Planet of the Apes, especially as the actor has long shown that he can shine when playing characters who are neither proper heroes not flat-out villains, either (with recent examples including his work on the Hunger Games films and True Detective season 1).
Official plot details for War of the Planet of the Apes (including, at what point it picks up after the events of Dawn) have yet to be revealed, though Reeves has said that the film will examine how Caesar becomes “a seminal figure in ape history” – an “ape Moses,“ as the director put it. The movie’s title also signals that its narrative will encompass major themes and plot beats alike, as it examines the human vs. ape conflict on a larger scale. Harrelson’s Colonel may prove to be a memorable player in that narrative, too.
War of the Planet of the Apes opens in U.S. theaters on July 14th, 2017.