Andy Serkis Signs on for ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ Sequel

It’s been a bit of an up and down year for movies, with many would be summer blockbusters underperforming while a select few shattered records. One of the biggest successes, and certainly the biggest surprise, of the year was “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” This reboot of the popular science fiction series didn’t have much to live up to due to the degradation of the brand thanks to mediocre sequels and the painful 2001 remake.

However, the film surprised both audiences and critics with its powerful, emotional story and astoundingly well realized ape character Caesar. The film would ultimately gross over $450 million worldwide, so it’s not surprising that has reported Andy Serkis will reprise his role as Caesar for the sequel.

Though rumors and notions of potential sequels have surfaced previously, this is the first official move forward on the project. It’s very telling that Serkis was the first, and so far only, actor to be signed for a sequel. It seems very clear that Fox understands it was his work and character that made the movie; a less attentive studio might have gone after James Franco first as a returning star.

Serkis will be joined by director Rupert Wyatt and the writing team of Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. Unlike Serkis, the director and writers had sequel clauses in their original contracts, so their return wasn’t in question.

Deadline indicates that Serkis will indeed be playing Caesar once again. This would point to the sequel taking place not too long after the original, ending speculation that it would be set several generations into the future after the apes have established themselves as the dominant species.

In an interview with Bleeding Cool, Wyatt had pointed to some of the directions the sequel might go. The director mentioned ideas “ranging from ‘Full Metal Jacket’ with apes” to the apes being “moved into human environments and having to interact with them and deal with things that are part of our culture and understand and evolve through them.”

These are just general ideas since the project is still very much in the early stages. However, it shows a clear desire by Wyatt to push the story forward and focus on how the apes are changing and the new role they play in the world. None of these story ideas would necessitate the return of Franco’s character or indeed any of the other humans who were featured in the first film, so it seems unlikely that any more casting will be announced until the story is locked down.

It is interesting that Wyatt made no mention of the Icarus space mission, which was a background feature of the first film and seemed like a setup for a sequel dealing with the astronauts’ return to a planet now ruled by apes. It’s possible that this idea is being held back for a potential — and likely third — film.

The Deadline article also mentions a possible Oscar push for Serkis being made by 20th Century Fox. While the praise for the actor’s work was universal, a nomination could prove difficult due to the amount of computer animation laid over his performance. Many felt that Serkis should have been nominated for his motion capture performance as Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” but Academy rules made him ineligible. However, given how much more common motion capture has become, attitudes might have changed enough to allow a nomination for Serkis. If any actor can break this barrier, he is certainly it.

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