Planet of the Apes is a 2001 American science fiction film directed by Tim Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, and Estella Warren. The sixth film in the Planet of the Apes franchise, it was loosely adapted from Pierre Boulle's 1963 novel of the same name and the 1968 film version. It tells the story of astronaut Leo Davidson crash-landing on a planet inhabited by intelligent apes. The apes treat humans as slaves, but with the help of an ape named Ari, Leo starts a rebellion.
Development for a Planet of the Apes remake started as far back as 1988 with Adam Rifkin. His project nearly reached the pre-production stage before being canceled. Terry Hayes's script, titled Return of the Apes, would have starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, under the direction of Phillip Noyce. Oliver Stone, Don Murphy, and Jane Hamsher were set to produce. Creative differences ensued between Hayes and financier/distributor 20th Century Fox. Chris Columbus, Sam Hamm, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, and the Hughes brothers later became involved.
With William Broyles Jr.'s script, Burton was hired as director, and the film was put into active development. Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal rewrote the script, and filming took place from November 2000 to April 2001. It received mixed reviews. Much criticism focused on the confusing plot and ending, although Rick Baker's prosthetic makeup designs, visual aspects and score were praised. Despite its financial success, 20th Century Fox chose not to produce a sequel, and later rebooted the franchise in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Plot[edit | edit source]
In 2029, aboard the United States Air Force space station Oberon, Leo Davidson works closely with primates who are trained for space missions. His favorite simian co-worker is a chimpanzee named Pericles. With a deadly electromagnetic storm approaching the station, a small space pod piloted by Pericles is used to probe the storm. Pericles's pod heads into the storm and disappears. Leo takes a second pod and goes into a pursuit search for Pericles. Entering the storm, Leo loses contact with the Oberon and, in 5021 A.D., crashes on a planet called Ashlar. He discovers that the world is ruled by humanoid apes who speak English, use domesticated horses for transportation, and treat human beings as slaves.
Leo comes across a female chimpanzee named Ari, who protests the awful treatment humans receive. Ari decides to buy Leo and a female slave named Daena to have them work as servants in the house of her father, Senator Sandar. Leo escapes his cage and frees other humans. Limbo, a slave trader in captured humans, sees them but is taken prisoner to ensure his silence. The human-hating General Thade and his junior, Colonel Attar, march ape warriors in pursuit of the humans. Leo discovers Calima, the forbidden, but holy temple of "Semos", the first ape whom the apes revere as a god.
Calima turns out to be the remains of the Oberon which had crashed on the planet's surface and now looks ancient (the name Calima coming from the sign "CAution LIve aniMAls", the relevant letters being the only ones not covered in dust). According to the computer logs, the station has been there for thousands of years. Leo deduces that when he entered the vortex, he was pushed forward in time, while the Oberon, searching after him, was not, crashing on the planet long before he did.
The Oberon's log reveals that the apes on board, led by Semos, organized a mutiny and took control of the vessel after it crashed. The human and ape survivors of the struggle left the ship and their descendants are the people Leo has encountered since landing. The apes arrive and attack the humans who have gathered to see Leo, although he is able to even the odds when he uses the Oberon's last fragments of fuel to fire a final blast at the first wave of apes. The battle is halted as a familiar vehicle descends from the sky and is identified immediately by Leo. The pod is piloted by Pericles, the chimp astronaut. Pericles was pushed forward in time as Leo was, and had just now found his way to the planet, the electromagnetic storm actually releasing people from it in an opposite direction in time to their entrance. When Pericles lands and the pod opens, the apes interpret his arrival as the return of Semos. They bow, and hostilities between humans and apes suddenly cease.
Pericles runs into the wreck of the Oberon and Leo runs after him, followed by General Thade. Thade and Leo fight. Pericles tries to help Leo, but Thade throws him hard against a wall. Thade takes Leo's gun from him and tries to fire it at Leo. Leo sees that Thade is within the pilot's deck and closes the automatic door, trapping Thade inside. Thade fires the gun repeatedly at the door but the ricochets create sparks that scare Thade, who huddles under a control panel. Leo decides to escape Ashlar and return to Earth. He gives Pericles to Ari, who promises to look after him. He says goodbye and kisses Ari and Daena. Leo climbs aboard Pericles's undamaged pod and travels back in time through the same electromagnetic storm, and crashes in Washington, D.C. on Earth. He looks up at what appears to be the Lincoln Memorial, only to find that it is now a monument memorializing General Thade. Leo is descended upon by a swarm of police officers, firefighters, and news reporters, all of whom are apes.
Cast[edit | edit source]
- Mark Wahlberg as Captain Leo Davidson
- Tim Roth as General Thade
- Helena Bonham Carter as Ari
- Michael Clarke Duncan as Colonel Attar
- Estella Warren as Daena
- Kris Kristofferson as Karubi
- Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as General Krull
- Paul Giamatti as Limbo
- Jonah and Jacob(both uncredited) as Pericles
other roles include:
- David Warner (Senator Sandar)
- Lisa Marie (Nova)
- Erick Avari (Tival)
- Luke Eberl (Birn)
- Evan Parke (Gunnar)
- Glenn Shadix (Senator Nado)
- Freda Foh Shen (Bon)
- Chris Ellis (Lt. Karl Vasich)
- Anne Ramsay (Lt. Col. Grace Alexander)
- Kam Heskin (Friend at Leo's Party)
- Melody Perkins (Friend at Leo's Party)
There are also cameo appearances by:
Development[edit | edit source]
Late 1980s[edit | edit source]
20th Century Fox president Craig Baumgarten was impressed with Adam Rifkin's filmmaking with Never on Tuesday. In 1988, Rifkin was brought in the studio to pitch ideas for films. Rifkin, being a fan of the 1968 Planet of the Apes felt it was best to continue the film series. "Having independent film experience, I promised I could write and direct a huge-looking film for a reasonable price and budget, like Aliens." Fox commissioned Rifkin to write what amounted to a sequel, "but not a sequel to the fifth film, an alternate sequel to the first film". He took influences from Spartacus, with the storyline being "the ape empire had reached its Roman era. A descendant of Charlton Heston's character named Duke would eventually lead a human slave revolt against the oppressive Roman-esque apes, led by General Izan. A real sword and sandal spectacular, monkey style. Gladiator did the same movie without the ape costumes."
Titled Return to the Planet of the Apes, the project was put on fast track and almost entered pre-production. Rick Baker was hired to design the prosthetic makeup with Danny Elfman composing the film score. Tom Cruise and Charlie Sheen were in contention for the lead role. "I can't accurately describe in words the utter euphoria I felt knowing that I, Adam Rifkin, was going to be resurrecting the Planet of the Apes. It all seemed too good to be true. I soon found out it was." Days before the film was to commence pre-production, new studio executives arrived at Fox, which caused creative differences between Rifkin and the studio. Rifkin was commissioned to rewrite the script through various drafts. The project was abandoned until Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh pitched their own idea, with the apes going through a Renaissance. In the story, the ape government becomes concerned over the new art works, the humans are revolting and the liberal apes shelter a half-human, half-ape from the gorillas. Roddy McDowall was enthusiastic about their proposal and agreed to play the Leonardo da Vinci-type character they had written for him. However, the executive Jackson spoke to was not a fan of the series and seemingly unaware of McDowall's involvement in the series, and Jackson turned his attention back to Heavenly Creatures.
Oliver Stone[edit | edit source]
By 1993, Fox hired Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher as producers. Sam Raimi and Oliver Stone were being considered as possible directors, though Stone signed on as executive producer/co-writer with a $1 million salary. On the storyline, Stone explained in December 1993, "It has the discovery of cryogenically frozen Vedic Apes who hold the secret numeric codes to the Bible that foretold the end of civilizations. It deals with past versus the future. My concept is that there's a code inscribed in the Bible that predicts all historical events. The apes were there at the beginning and figured it all out."
Stone brought Terry Hayes to write the screenplay entitled Return of the Apes. Set in the near future, a plague is making humans extinct. Geneticist Will Robinson discovers the plague is a genetic time bomb embedded in the Stone Age. He time travels with a pregnant colleague named Billie Rae Diamond to a time when Palaeolithic humans were at war for the future of the planet with highly evolved apes. The apes' supreme commander is a gorilla named Drak. Robinson and Billie Rae discover a young human girl named Aiv (pronounced Eve) to be the next step in evolution. It is revealed that it was the apes that created the virus to destroy the human race. They protect her from the virus, thus ensuring the survival of the human race 102,000 years later. Billie Rae gives birth to a baby boy named Adam.
Fox president Peter Chernin called Return of the Apes "one of the best scripts I ever read". Chernin was hoping Hayes' script would create a franchise that included sequels, spin-off television shows and merchandise. In March 1994, Arnold Schwarzenegger signed on as Will Robinson with the condition he had approval of director. Chuck Russell was considered as a possible director before Phillip Noyce was hired in January 1995, while pre-production was nearing commencement with a $100 million budget. Stone first approached Rick Baker, who worked on Rifkin's failed remake, to design the prosthetic makeup, but eventually hired Stan Winston.
Fox became frustrated by the distance between their approach and Hayes' interpretation of Stone's ideas. As producer Don Murphy put it, "Terry wrote a Terminator and Fox wanted The Flintstones". Fox studio executive Dylan Sellers felt the script could be improved by comedy. "What if Robinson finds himself in Ape land and the Apes are trying to play baseball? But they're missing one element, like the pitcher or something." Sellers continued. "Robinson knows what they're missing and he shows them, and they all start playing." Sellers refused to give up his baseball scene, and when Hayes turned in the next script, sans baseball, Sellers fired him. Dissatisfied with Sellers' decision to fire Hayes, Noyce left Return of the Apes in February 1995 to work on The Saint.
Columbus and Cameron[edit | edit source]
Stone pursued other films of his own, Chernin was replaced by Thomas Rothman, and a drunken Sellers crashed his car, killing a much-loved colleague and earning jail time, while producers Murphy and Hamsher were paid off. "After they got rid of us, they brought on Chris Columbus", Murphy stated. "Then I heard they did tests of apes skiing, which didn't make much sense." Stan Winston was still working on the makeup designs. Columbus brought Sam Hamm, his co-writer on an unproduced Fantastic Four script, to write the screenplay. "We tried to do a story that was simultaneously a homage to the elements we liked from the five films, and would also incorporate a lot of material [from Pierre Boulle's novel] that had been jettisoned from the earlier production," Hamm continued. "The first half of the script bore little resemblance to the book, but a lot of the stuff in the second half comes directly from it, or directly inspired by it."
Hamm's script had an ape astronaut from another planet crash-landing in New York Harbor, launching a virus that will make human beings extinct. Dr. Susan Landis, who works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Alexander Troy, an Area 51 scientist, use the ape's spacecraft to return to the virus' planet of origin, hoping to find an antidote. They find an urban environment where apes armed with heavy weapons hunt humans. The main villain was Lord Zaius; in contrast to Dr. Zaius, Lord Zaius was very cruel to the humans. Landis and Troy discover the antidote and return to Earth, only to find in their 74-year absence that apes have taken over the planet. "The Statue of Liberty's once proud porcelain features have been crudely chiseled into the grotesque likeness of a great grinning ape".
Schwarzenegger remained attached, but Fox had mixed emotions with Hamm's script. When Columbus dropped out in late 1995 to work on Jingle All the Way, Fox offered the director's position to Roland Emmerich in January 1996. James Cameron was in talks during the filming of Titanic as writer and producer. Cameron's version would have drawn elements from the original film and its sequel Beneath the Planet of the Apes. After the financial and critical success of Titanic, Cameron dropped out. After learning about his previous involvement, Chernin and Rothman met with Peter Jackson to learn about his original Renaissance idea. Jackson turned down directing the film with Schwarzenegger and Cameron as his producer, recognizing they would probably conflict over the direction. Schwarzenegger left to work on Eraser. Michael Bay then turned down the director's position. Jackson again turned down the project while facing the possible cancellation of The Lord of the Rings in 1998, because he was unenthusiastic following Roddy McDowall's death. In mid-1999, the Hughes brothers were interested in directing but were committed to From Hell.
Pre-production[edit | edit source]
In 1999, William Broyles Jr. turned down the chance to write the script, but decided to sign on "when I found out I could have an extensive amount of creative control". Fox projected the release date for July 2001, while Broyles sent the studio an outline and a chronicle of the fictional planet "Aschlar". Entitled The Visitor and billed as "episode one in the Chronicles of Aschlar", Broyles' script caught the attention of director Tim Burton, who was hired in February 2000. "I wasn't interested in doing a remake or a sequel of the original Planet of the Apes film," Burton said later. "But I was intrigued by the idea of revisiting that world. Like a lot of people, I was affected by the original film. I wanted to do a 're-imagining'." Richard D. Zanuck signed on as producer in March. "This is a very emotional film for me. I greenlighted the original Apes when I was the head of Fox in 1967."
Under Burton's direction, Broyles wrote another draft, but his script was projected at a $200 million budget. Fox wanted to cut it to $100 million. In August 2000, two months before principal photography, Fox brought Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal for rewrites. Broyles "had a lot of respect with the work they [Konner and Rosenthal] did. And to think that given what I'd done and given what Tim wanted, they navigated the right course." One of the considered endings had Leo Davidson crash-landing at Yankee Stadium, witnessing apes playing baseball. Various alternatives were considered before the filmmakers decided on the final one. The production of Planet of the Apes was a difficult experience for Burton. This was largely contributed by Fox's adamant release date (July 2001), which meant that everything from pre-production to editing and visual effects work was rushed.
Konner and Rosenthal were rewriting the script even as sets were being constructed. Ari, Helena Bonham Carter's character, was originally a princess. She was changed to "a Senator's daughter with a liberal mentality". One of the drafts had General Thade, Tim Roth's character, as an albino gorilla, but Burton felt chimpanzees were more frightening. Limbo, Paul Giamatti's character "was supposed to turn into a good guy. There was supposed to be this touching personal growth thing at the end," Giamatti reflected. "But Tim [Burton] and I both thought that was kind of lame so we decided to just leave him as a jerk into the end."
Filming[edit | edit source]
Burton wanted to begin filming in October 2000, but it was pushed back to November 6, 2000 and ended in April 2001. Filming for Planet of the Apes began at Lake Powell, where parts of the original film were shot. Due to a local drought, production crews had to pump in extra water. The film was mostly shot at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California, while other filming locations included lava plains in Hawaii and Trona Pinnacles at Ridgecrest. To preserve secrecy, the shooting script did not include the ending. Stan Winston was the original makeup designer but left because of creative differences. Fox considered using computer-generated imagery to create the apes, but Burton insisted on using prosthetic makeup designed by Rick Baker. Baker was previously involved with Adam Rifkin's unproduced remake. Burton commented, "I have a relationship with both of them [Winston and Baker], so that decision was hard," he says. "Stan worked on Edward Scissorhands and Baker did Martin Landau's makeup [as Béla Lugosi in Ed Wood]".
On his hiring, Baker explained, "I did the Dino De Laurentiis version of King Kong in 1976 and was always disappointed because I wasn't able to do it as realistically as I wanted. I thought Apes would be a good way to make up for that." In addition to King Kong, Baker previously worked with designing ape makeup on Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, Gorillas in the Mist, and the 1998 remake of Mighty Joe Young. The makeup took 4.5 hours to apply and 1.5 hours to remove. Burton explained, "it's like going to the dentist at two in the morning and having people poke at you for hours. Then you wear an ape costume until nine at night." Burton was adamant that the apes should be substantially "more animal-like; flying through trees, climb walls, swing out of windows, and go ape shit when angry." For a month and a half before shooting started, the actors who portrayed apes attended "ape school". Industrial Light & Magic, Rhythm and Hues Studios and Animal Logic were commissioned for the visual effects sequences. Rick Heinrichs served as the production designer and Colleen Atwood did costume design.
To compose the film score, Burton hired regular collaborator Danny Elfman, who had previously been set as composer when Adam Rifkin was to do his remake in 1989. Elfman noted that his work on Planet of the Apes contained more percussion instruments than usual.
During filming, Roth held a grudge against Heston due to his work with the National Rifle Association: "It was very difficult for me. On one level, there's the man and he's my dad. But on the other level, the whole NRA thing is what it is now. I'm so against it, very vocally so. But it was inappropriate for the workplace. If I'm going to talk to him, I'll talk to him outside the workplace. So it was just two guys in makeup doing a scene." Roth later claimed he would not have appeared in the film had he known he would be sharing a scene with Heston.
Reception[edit | edit source]
Box office[edit | edit source]
To help market Planet of the Apes, Fox commissioned an Internet marketing campaign that also involved geocaching. Hasbro released a toy line, while Dark Horse Comics published a comic book adaptation. The original release date for the film was July 4, 2001. Planet of the Apes was released on July 27, 2001 in 3,500 theaters across North America, earning $68,532,960 in its opening weekend. This was the second-highest opening weekend of 2001, behind Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The film went on to gross $180,011,740 in North America and $182,200,000 elsewhere, for a worldwide total of $362,211,740. Planet of the Apes was the tenth-highest-grossing film in North America, and ninth-highest worldwide, of 2001.
Critical response[edit | edit source]
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes Planet of the Apes has an approval rating of 44% based on 158 reviews, with an average rating of 5.51/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "This remake of Planet of the Apes can't compare to the original in some critics' minds, but the striking visuals and B-movie charms may win you over." On Metacritic the film has an average score of 50 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 2½ stars. He praised the twist ending, but felt the film lacked a balanced story structure. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave a negative review. "Call it a letdown, worsened by the forces of shoddy screenwriting. To quote Heston in both films, 'Damn them, damn them all'." Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times believed "the actors in the nonhuman roles are mostly too buried by makeup to make strong impressions. Unfortunately, none of the good work counts as much as you'd think it would," Turan said. "Planet of the Apes shows that taking material too seriously can be as much of a handicap as not taking it seriously at all." Elvis Mitchell of The New York Times gave a more favorable review, feeling the script was balanced and the film served its purpose as "pure entertainment". Susan Wloszczyna of USA Today enjoyed Planet of the Apes, feeling most of the credit should go to prosthetic makeup designer Rick Baker.
Much criticism was leveled against the ambiguous ending. Tim Roth, who portrayed General Thade, said "I cannot explain that ending. I have seen it twice and I don't understand anything." Helena Bonham Carter, who played Ari, said, "I thought it made sense, kind of. I don't understand why everyone went, 'Huh?' It's all a time warp thing. He's gone back and he realizes Thade's beat him there." Although the ending was ambiguous, it was closer to the ending of the actual Pierre Boulle book than was the ending of the 1968 Charlton Heston movie version. In the first of two twist endings of the Pierre Boulle book, the astronaut escapes back to planet Earth, only to be greeted by a gorilla in a jeep on the landing strip. Burton claimed the ending was not supposed to make any sense, but it was more of a cliffhanger to be explained in a possible sequel. "It was a reasonable cliffhanger that could be used in case Fox or another filmmaker wanted to do another movie," he explained.
The film was nominated for two BAFTA Awards, one for Best Make-up held by Rick Baker, the other for Best Costume Design. Roth (Supporting Actor), Bonham Carter (Supporting Actress), Colleen Atwood (Costume), and Rick Baker (Make-up) received nominations at the Saturn Awards. Atwood and Baker were nominated at the 55th British Academy Film Awards, while music composer Danny Elfman was nominated for his work at the 43rd Grammy Awards. Planet of the Apes won Worst Remake at the 22nd Golden Raspberry Awards, while Heston (Worst Supporting Actor) and Estella Warren (Worst Supporting Actress) also won awards. At the 2001 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, the film received nominations for Worst Director (Burton), Worst Supporting Actress (Warren), and Worst Screenplay for a Film Grossing Over $100M Worldwide Using Hollywood Math, but it failed to win any of those.
Future[edit | edit source]
Cancelled sequel[edit | edit source]
Fox stated that if Planet of the Apes was a financial success, then a sequel would be commissioned. Ultimately, they decided against pursuing another film. When asked whether he would be interested in working on a follow-up, director Tim Burton replied, "I'd rather jump out a window." Mark Wahlberg and Helena Bonham Carter would have returned if Burton had decided to make another Apes film. Paul Giamatti had been interested in reprising his role. "I think it'd be great to have apes driving cars, smoking cigars," Giamatti said. "Wearing glasses, sitting in a board room, stuff like that." Planet of the Apes was the last film Burton worked on with his former fiancée Lisa Marie. After their relationship broke up, Burton started a relationship with Bonham Carter, who portrayed Ari. Planet of the Apes was also Burton's first collaboration with producer Richard D. Zanuck.
Reboot[edit | edit source]
Fox returned to the franchise in 2011 with Rise of the Planet of the Apes, a reboot of the series that led to its own sequels.
Video game[edit | edit source]
In 1998, after 20th Century Fox had greenlit James Cameron's version of the film remake, the company's video game division, Fox Interactive, started planning a video game tie-in. The film project went on hold when Cameron pulled out, but Fox Interactive remained confident a remake would progress eventually and continued with the game. Fox contracted French company Visiware as developer; with the film on hold, the creators developed their own story inspired by Boulle's novel and the original films. The game is an action-adventure in which the player controls astronaut Ulysses after he crashes on the Planet of the Apes. The game was developed for PC and PlayStation.
The game experienced serious delays due to setbacks with the film project and Fox Interactive's decision to co-publish with a third party. Despite its long development, the game missed the debut of Burton's film. Fox Interactive and co-publisher Ubisoft finally released the PC version on September 20, 2001; the PlayStation version followed on August 22, 2002. The game received mostly negative reviews.
Additionally, Ubisoft and developer Torus Games produced a substantially different Planet of the Apes game for Game Boy Advance and Game Boy Color. It is a side-scroller following the first two films; the player controls astronaut Ben on the Planet of the Apes. The Game Boy versions received average reviews.
Home media[edit | edit source]
The film was released on DVD and VHS on November 20, 2001.