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Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes will continue Hollywood’s most underrated franchise

Sorry humans, you had your time

A concept art painting for Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, depicting an ape on horseback riding downhill in front of the ruins of a city with a river flowing out from it. A falcon comes in to land on the ape’s extended arm. Image: 20th Century Studios
Joshua Rivera (he/him) is an entertainment and culture journalist specializing in film, TV, and video game criticism, the latest stop in a decade-plus career as a critic.

The recent Planet of the Apes trilogy is one of the most consistently fun and thoughtful blockbuster franchise revivals in recent memory. Beginning in an understated fashion with Rupert Wyatt’s 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the series took off when The Batman director Matt Reeves grabbed the baton for 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes with an understated approach to post-apocalyptic action that never lost sight of the humanity in its story about a burgeoning ape society.

Turns out their story is not over: Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, “an all-new chapter in the ‘Planet of the Apes’ saga” will enter production next month. According to 20th Century Studios, the story will pick up many years after the conclusion of War for the Planet of the Apes, but any plot details beyond that aren’t being revealed yet.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes will star Owen Teague (It), Freya Allan (The Witcher), and Peter Macon (The Orville), and it will be directed by Wes Bell (known for the Maze Runner films but also the unfortunately canned animated adaptation of Mouse Guard). While this seems like a changing of the guard, two of the writers on the script — Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver — worked on the first two films, and they’re joined by Josh Friedman and Patrick Aison (the latter of which wrote the excellent Prey).

Unfortunately, there’s no mention of the one thing that helped make the new Apes trilogy such a success: Weta Digital’s work bringing the Apes to life, which included an all-time great performance from Andy Serkis as the ape leader Caesar. That’s not to say the movie can’t be good with another team and performer, it’s just easily the biggest shoes to fill, the sort of thing that will help or hinder the storytelling ambitions of a movie like this.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is currently set to premiere in 2024.

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