Now that War for the Planet of the Apes has opened to overwhelmingly positive reviews and won its first weekend at the box office, we can now turn to the inevitable next question: What next? Does the story of The Planet of the Apes continue after this installment? And if so, what might that look like? Screenwriter Mark Bomback chatted with Inverse and offered up some answers.
Major Spoilers for War for the Planet of the Apes follow.
If you haven’t seen the latest in the Apes franchise, turn back now, because the conclusion of this film definitely feels final. That’s somewhat incidental; Bomback and Reeves didn’t set out to create a closed circle trilogy when they took over for Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa, who wrote the initial reboot, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. And yet, Bomback says that when he and Reeves were writing Dawn, things just headed naturally in that direction.
“We felt like there was probably only one more big chapter left to tell, at least of the Caesar mythology,” the writer says. “How Caesar came to be this Moses figure in the Apes world.”
Because Caesar dies in the last moments of War for the Planet of the Apes, his story seems to now be over. Forever. And though War for the Planet of the Apes is easily the darkest iteration in the entire franchise (including the old films) it ends with Caesar seeing his kingdom happy and safe. How would a sequel work at this point?
“Truthfully, we haven’t had those kinds of conversations,” Bomback explains. “I’ve been working on these films for about seven years now. I’m ready to take a breather and let things rest a bit.” But that isn’t to say Bomback doesn’t think there couldn’t or shouldn’t be sequels; instead, it’s simply that any version of those stories would probably make a significant leap into the future.
“The good news is the world we created has been really well-received by people, and I think people would be interested in seeing what happens to the characters within it,” he says. “Maybe it takes a big leap ahead. We’ve sort of laid out the DNA that others could delve into 100 years from now, or 200 years from now, or 500 years from now.”
Because the original 1968 film depicted the Earth being ruled by apes in the year 3954, it’s not insane for a direct sequel to War for the Planet of the Apes to jump ahead that far into the future. Could other apes be at war with Caesar’s apes that far into the future? Comments from director Matt Reeves over on ScreenRant seem to indicate that the character of “Bad Ape,” could be a “seed” of what might happen in future movies. Either way, though, Bomback confirms there’s no set plan. “We weren’t trying to lay too much pipe for what was coming next,” he says.
For now, until a sequel comes along, War for the Planet of the Apes will definitely be remembered as the darkest, most serious Apes film of them all. During the screenwriting process, Bomback explains that he and Reeves we aware that the film wasn’t going to pull an monkey-punches. “Truthfully, neither of us interested in making a safe sequel — if there is a safe sequel — to Dawn. We worked really hard on Dawn, and we both agreed if we weren’t going to swing for the fences on this one, it wasn’t worth it.”
War for the Planet of the Apes is out in wide release now.