The Planet of the Apes franchise is one of our most-loved sci-fi franchises. Why? Because it does what any good ‘what if?’ film does, it holds a mirror up to us and makes us reflect on our own failings, issues and conflicts through a slightly crazy premise.
For example, the original film from 1968 mixes social commentary, satire, suspense and action, while the subsequent sequels Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes dealt with the arms race, animal cruelty and race war, respectively.
And even though these films were innovative in a variety of ways, they also became one of the first series' to use several instalments to tell one story, changing the way film-related merchandise and products were marketed.
What's more, all of these films are incredibly entertaining and fun. Even the newly-released saga, which includes Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and War for the Planet of the Apes has captured the essence of the original films.
The Latest Planet of the Apes Trilogy
Starting with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which was released in 2011, this story began with a partial remake of the third film from the original trilogy, Conquest. But this time around, there isn't a nuclear war and Caesar has become the son of a chimp who's medically enhanced (pioneering CGI also replaces much of the old-fashion make-up). And if you've seen the original films, you'll no doubt lose track of the number of references that are made to it, including "It's a madhouse. A madhouse!"
Then, in 2014, the much-anticipated second film was released and this was when humans started to die out (if you've not seen it, there's a virus that increases the intelligence of an ape while killing humans).
The trilogy spectacularly 'ended' in 2017 with a story that was intentionally biblical. Here, Caesar tries to take all of his people (who are fighting amongst each other at this point) to the Promised Land.
Each of these films were incredibly well received, with the first, second and third grossing $482 million, $710 million and $346 million (to date), respectively - a far cry from the humble $33 million the original film made back in 1968.
Other Planet of the Apes Success Stories
The Planet of the Apes also had its own TV series for some time (in the 70s), which told the tale of a sympathetic chimp friend and two astronauts who found themselves on a futuristic Earth that was dominated by humanoid apes. There was only one series of this, though.
In the seventies, to coincide with the film releases, there were also some comics produced by a variety of publishers, including Marvel and Gold Key. These retro comics are now sought-after collectors' items, with a pristine copy of one of the originals being worth approximately £550.
And when it comes to merchandise, there is, of course, plenty to go at. From t-shirts to posters and action figures to mugs, you name it, you'll find it, especially for the latter trilogy which skyrocketed its way to success. Fans have also enjoyed the Planet of the Apes online slot. This is based on the first two films of the latest trilogy and has you reliving your favourite scenes time and time again.
What's Next for the Franchise?
After the last film, War of the Planet of the Apes, technically ended the most recent trilogy, many have asked whether there's any room for the franchise to go any further.
Well, experts believe there's plenty more stories to tell.
Therefore, even though the last three films were advertised as a 'trilogy', director, Matt Reeves, has always been opened about his desire to see the original series of the films meeting up with the present-day ones. So while the last film left the apes with a great new future in which they could build and explore, the last thing we see of them is a long way away from the advanced civilisation that you see in the original films.
In the first franchise, all of the apes have evolved so they're speaking and acting like humans, while human beings are just mute slaves. And when you see Charlton Heston Taylor arriving for the first time, he says the date is 3978, which creates a rather large gap in time that needs filling.
One thing's for sure, then, we can expect to see far more from this franchise in the future, and who knows how close to reality these stories will get.
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