After Tim Burton’s less-than-stellar Planet of the Apes rehash in 2001, many fans were understandably wary when, barely a decade later, the franchise got the reboot treatment one more time. But it turns out there was no reason to be afraid, since both 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and this past summer’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are fantastic and we can’t wait until the next one, already scheduled to open July 29, 2016. The original ending of Rise, however, was very different, and now we’ve got a description, as well as some concept art of the proposed finale.
Spoilers lurk beyond if you haven’t seen Rise, but at this point that’s really on you. You should check it out, it’s awesome.
With Andy Serkis being pushed as an Award season contender, even though his performance is all motion capture, the Planet of the Apes family has been all over the place lately. Film Sketchr got their hands on a description of the initial conclusion of Rise, and some corresponding mockups of what it would have looked like, and it’s pretty cool.
The ending in the film sees James Franco’s character have an emotional goodbye with Caesar (Serkis) in the forest and the apes looking over San Francisco in the distance. Then, in the credits, you see a woman on an airplane become the second victim of what will be called the Simian Flu, and lead to the events of Dawn.
Rise has a number of nice allusions to the films that came before, and the original end was another of these, a reference to the most notorious moment in the entire franchise. You can see how it would have played out in this concept art by Brian Cunningham.
The sequence began with Caesar inside a tall, narrow building, walking up a tight spiral staircase.
Caesar is much older, battered, and even decorated with tattoos, markings, and what looks like war paint. The second image shows this, as the ape looks out a twisted fissure in the surface of the structure.
As the camera pulls back, the building is revealed as the severely damaged Statue of Liberty, and around her New York City burns in the background. All you need is Charlton Heston, pounding his fists in the ground screaming about maniacs blowing it all up and damning them all to hell.
You understand the impulse to include this moment in the film, but in regards to franchise building, it’s easy to see why they went a different way. We know that we’re eventually going to get to this point in the new series, but tipping your hand early on like this would have been detrimental to the future. First, knowing Caesar lives removes much of the tension, as, no matter the danger he’s in, you know he’ll get out of it. And it also paints a one-sided conflict. This escalates in Dawn, and even though we generally know how it’s going to play out, you want to preserve as much mystery as you can.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes is widely available, without this ending, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes hits Blu-ray on December 2. It’s one of our favorite movies of the year, and definitely one to watch if you haven’t already.