20th Century Fox was quick to get the ball rolling on a followup to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. After the film's impressive opening last year, director Rupert Wyatt seemed like a sure thing to return for the next installment; however, in recent weeks, it came to light that he might not be locked down for the project after all.
According to the latest reports, Wyatt is indeed set for the Apes sequel (we'll just call it Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2 for now). Furthermore, the latest draft of the film's script has been assigned to an increasingly in-demand writer.
Heat Vision is saying that Scott Z. Burns has been tapped by Fox to work on the screenplay for Apes 2; presumably, he will be drawing from an earlier draft written up by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver (the screenwriting duo behind Rise of the Planet of the Apes).
Apes 2 will pick up the narrative threads left dangling at the conclusion of its predecessor - by "taking the story to the next level, with the apes on the path to emerge as society's new rulers." The final scene in Rise of the Planet of the Apes directly set the stage for the emergence of our ape overlords, as a virus that was engineered to increase intelligence in non-human primates (but proved fatal to humans) began to spread rapidly around the world. It makes sense then that Burns would be hired on for the sequel, given that he penned last year's chillingly clinical global epidemic drama, Contagion.
Burns also has experience in the area of globe-trotting action/thriller material, having worked on the script for The Bourne Ultimatum. That also complies with Wyatt's spoken desire for Apes 2 to feature a mix of genre elements (sci-fi, war movie, espionage thriller).
Andy Serkis has been locked down to reprise his motion-capture performance as the genetically-altered Caesar in Apes 2 since last November - a wise move on Fox's part, seeing how the character served as the heart and soul of Rise of the Planet of the Apes. The human characters were easily the weakest links (evolution pun intended) in that film, but will be all the more important in the followup to the Apes requel (rebooting prequel), as viewers should probably be given some reason to not want Caesar and his simian comrades to topple their human oppressors.
Fox head Tom Rothman recently said that Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2 could begin shooting as early as this summer - which seems a tad too soon right now, given that Burns has just been hired to revamp the current script draft (assuming he's not starting from scratch). Then again, as longtime Screen Rant readers with good memories might recall, Rise of the Planet of the Apes was slated for a Summer 2010 production start date just a few months in advance - before many important ingredients (like a director and most of the central cast) had even been confirmed. Could history be repeating itself?
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of Rise of the Planet of the Apes 2 as more information is released.