Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens this weekend and is easily one of my favorite movies of the summer. I could go on and on about it forever, but that’s off topic, and if you’re interested in my thoughts on the matter, you can read my review. In 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes rebooted the franchise and was better than most of us expected, but that wasn’t the first attempt to revisit the ape-dominated Earth. Most of you remember what happened when Tim Burton and Mark Wahlberg tried in 2001, leaving a foul taste in our mouth that still lingers (Dawn should go a long way towards healing those old wounds), but there was one other attempt that most people don’t know about. In the 1990s Oliver Stone and Arnold Schwarzenegger tried to get a reboot off the ground. It didn’t go anywhere, but it would have been completely insane.
After Natural Born Killers dropped in 1994, producers Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher needed something new to work on, and attempted to enlist Stone in a Planet of the Apes reboot called Return of the Apes. Stone wasn’t particularly interested, and a meeting with studio execs wasn’t going well. That is, until Stone threw out this pitch: “What if time were not linear, but circular, and there was no difference between the past and the future?…And what if there were discovered cryogenically frozen Vedic Apes who held the secret numeric codes to the Bible that foretold the end of civilization?”