With box office returns of nearly $500 million worldwide, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was one of the surprise hits of 2011. So it wasn't surprising when Fox announced the development of a sequel to the film: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) is directing the sequel and Andy Serkis will reprise his role as Caesar, the leader of the apes, but one character that likely won't return is James Franco's Dr. Will Rodman.
Recently, Franco told MTV News that there were early plans for him to have a small role in the sequel, but things changed after director Rupert Wyatt dropped off the project.
I was going to be a small part of the next one. There was a moment when Rupert Wyatt was going to direct the second one. A lot of the human characters that were in the first movie were dead in the sequel that Rupert was going to direct. But there was one scene, between Caesar and my character, maybe even just like on a video that was left behind, but then a lot of things happened, like [former Fox co-chairman] Tom Rothman who was a big part of the first movie, left. Now Rupert's not a part of it so I don't know. My guess is I won't be in it. Nobody's talked to me since Rupert left.
It sounds like there is still potential for Franco to come back for the movie, but it depends on whether Reeves and new screenwriter Mark Bomback have a good place for him.
As Andy Serkis recently explained, Dawn will pick up right where Rise left off with Caesar acting as a mediator between the intelligent apes and humanity, which has been ravaged by the pandemic seen at the end of the first film. Given that plot, it makes sense that Franco's character wouldn't come back and we would instead focus on new human characters.
While Franco was the headliner for the film, Andy Serkis was the star of the first movie according to most critics. The versatile actor (who can currently be seen reprising the role of Gollum in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit) brought an incredible level of depth to his character and showed why he is the best in the business at motion-capture performances. As long as he's involved in the film, and the story is as smart as the first, the majority of filmgoers should be happy with a sequel sans Franco.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is expected to hit theaters May 23rd, 2014.