Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ Runtime Could Confirm A Classic Twist

Maybe the next Apes is actually two movies in one.

The Planet of the Apes Charlton Heston, Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter in court room scene from the 1...
Screen Archives/Moviepix/Getty Images

The relative lengths of epic sci-fi and fantasy movies are all over the place right now. While Dune: Part Two doesn’t quite hit the three-hour mark, it gets close at two hours and 46 minutes. Meanwhile, Kong x Godzilla: The New Empire and Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire are each much more old-school in length — both just shy of two hours. Somewhere in the middle of this non-trend will be Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, which will clock in at two hours and 25 minutes. This runtime makes it the longest film in the Apes franchise by a small margin; War for the Planet of the Apes (2017) was two hours and 20 minutes.

But, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is still roughly 40 minutes longer than the original 1968 film, and nearly a full hour longer than 1971’s Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Since this movie feels like a soft reboot for the entire franchise, one has to wonder if this long-ish runtime is indicative of something bigger. Could the runtime of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes hint at the movie’s wildest secret?

Apes movies need twists

In the original Planet of the Apes, Taylor has no idea he’s really crash-landed on Earth...until the end.

Silver Screen Collection/Moviepix/Getty Images

Since Rod Serling adapted Pierre Boulle’s novel in 1968, a hallmark of the Apes franchise is the deployment of status-quo-altering twists. In the 1968 movie, we learn this alien world was Earth all along. In the sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1969), the entire Earth is destroyed at the end. Then, the next two movies, Escape (1971) and Conquest (1972), unfurl a time-travel plot, which explains the nature of the titular Planet of the Apes is the result of a bootstraps paradox. Tim Burton’s 2001 remake dropped a WTF twist-ending featuring the Lincoln Memorial replaced by an ape, which, interestingly, wasn’t too different from the one of two twist endings in the original novel.

In a sense, the contemporary trilogy — which began with Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011 — hasn’t busted out these Twilight Zone-esque twists as much, which could mean that the next film in the franchise will be a return to this classic formula.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes twist, revealed?

Why is everyone obsessed with telescopes in these trailers?

20th Century Fox

While this is pure speculation at this point, it seems possible — even likely — that Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes will feature a big twist, possibly at some point well before the end. The trailers and promotional material make no specific mention that this is indeed the planet Earth. Plus, all we know is that this movie is set in the same continuity as War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), but over 300 years later. The timeline setting is relatively straightforward, but the location has not been confirmed at all. Surely, apes and humans could have settled into a “kingdom” on other planets in between movies, right?

A close reading of the most recent trailer reveals a huge emphasis on characters looking into telescopes with astonishment, and at least one scene where Noa examines model planets and says, “The elders did not tell us everything about this world.”

This brings us back to the runtime. Because Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes has a long-ish runtime, this could indicate that the twist — in which we learn that this is not Earth, but an alien world — will occur sometime around the middle of the movie, or, perhaps before the last third. This high-concept revelation would give Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes some twisty novelty that its most recent predecessors sometimes lacked.

If Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes drops a twist about the basic location of the story, then it will, essentially, be inverting the twist from the very first film, while also honoring the setting of the book, in which the Planet of the Apes was really not on Earth at all. Either way, if this new Apes movie is planning on doing some monkey business with which “planet” we’re talking about, the story will need plenty of time to let all of that play out.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes hits theaters on May 10, 2024.

Related Tags