The recently released War for the Planet of the Apes is the latest film in this ongoing franchise and its success at the box office has ensured that next year’s 50th anniversary of the release of the original Planet of the Apes film is one to celebrate. Of course, as with any film series that runs for that long, it has not all been plain sailing and here we will look at the history of this franchise ahead of its anniversary.
The original film series
The first Planet of the Apes movie, released into cinemas back in 1968, was based on the novel La Planete des Singes – which was the work of French writer Pierre Boulles and was published five years before. It became a huge box office hit, bringing in revenues of nearly six times its $5,800,000 production costs. It was also a genuinely quality film with interesting themes and its success led to a series of follow-ups – Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. Lacking much of the creative talent of the original film, these did not repeat its success with either critics or audiences, and the series came to an end in 1973.
Remake in 2001
The franchise lay dormant for a long time after this, at least as far as movies go, but was revived in 2001. A remake of the 1968 original, it starred one of that period’s hottest actors in Mark Walhberg and was directed by Tim Burton. However many of those who saw the original as a classic of thoughtful, progressive sci-fi were unhappy with the big changes to the plot and reliance on action and special effects. The remake failed to please either fans of the earlier films or the new generation of filmgoers, and plans for sequels were scrapped.
After being abandoned for a further decade, the franchise was revived again in 2011 – with Rise of the Planet of the Apes. This approached things from a new angle, with a genetically enhanced chimpanzee, raised by human beings and subsequently sparking a rebellion of apes against their captivity. This radical change was well received and led to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes three years later, before this latest film. The new film won considerable praise for its dark, intelligent tone and realistic depiction of the war.
Alongside the main film series, there have been several attempts to expand the franchise into other media. During the mid-1970s, there were two failed television series’ – Planet of the Apes and Return to the Planet of the Apes – but the revived franchise is now bringing about new spin-offs like a themed slot game that can be found on online casinos such as gamblinginsider.ca for example. Should it continue to be successful, we may see new television series, in the style of the Marvel universe, in the future.
Fox has already announced that a fourth film, spinning off from the main franchise is on the way and it could be that they will announce details about it during next year’s anniversary.