Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is the followup to last year's rebooting prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The sequel has a script from returning duo Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, with revisions by Scott Z. Burns (Contagion). Lord of the Rings actor Andy Serkis will reprise his other famous motion-capture performance, as the revolution-leading chimp, Caesar. However, we learned earlier this month that Rise director Rupert Wyatt is not coming back for the sequel.
Fox, therefore, is on the prowl for a suitable filmmaker to replace Wyatt and has drawn up a list of potential replacements. The director shortlist is topped by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) - who, perhaps not-so-coincidentally, recently signed a TV development deal with 20th Century Fox; not to mention, we found out yesterday that Reeves has passed on directing The Twilight Zone for Warner Bros.
Studio heads want to strike while the iron's hot, so they've scheduled Dawn for a May 2014 release. The relatively short turnaround between films contributed to Wyatt departing the sequel, but could allow for someone like Reeves to step in, seeing how there's been little progress to report on his other developing projects of late. Of course, the same is true for another candidate on the Dawn shortlist, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later), whose reboot of the Highlander franchise with Ryan Reynolds has no definite release date or production timeline yet.
The ending of Rise set the stage for some horrific, apocalyptic, events to transpire in Dawn, which explains why Fox is looking at people like Reeves and Fresnadillo to direct (given their previous work). Other names on the shortlist include J Blakeson (The Disappearance of Alice Creed), Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter) and Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage), all of whom have experience telling emotionally-intense and sometimes downright-terrifying stories.
Insiders say Rian Johnson (Looper) also made the shortlist, but Deadline has been informed by his reps that he is not interested. Similarly, Guillermo del Toro's name made the cut, but he's too busy to be considered a legitimate possibility. The other aforementioned candidates are acclaimed horror/thriller filmmakers who come with a small price tag, but that does not mean for certain one of them will land the job over either Reeves or Fresnadillo.
Reeves did a commendable job capturing a catastrophic event - one involving a giant monster's rampage, no less - from an intimate perspective in Cloverfield. Moreover, with Let Me In, he made a coming-of-age tale that features centuries-old vampires feel grounded and believable. That's to say, he's a reasonable choice to stage a convincing global epidemic and underground ape revolution in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (as experienced through Caesar's eyes).
Fox, of course, will be the final judge of that, and it's possible the studio could go end up going with another director than Reeves, be it due a difference in creative vision or scheduling issue. We will let you know who, exactly, ends up landing the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes job as the story develops.