Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ one-line pitch

Director Wes Ball’s (now also attached to the live-action Legend of Zelda movie) one-line pitch for Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes was a surprising but enticing one.

Marketing for the next Planet of the Apes movie, which is set to kick off a new story arc for the enduring sci-fi series, is about to ramp up as we enter 2024, and Empire’s latest issue includes new details about where the movie is going and how it was developed.

Their conversation with Ball and his team got off to a good start when the filmmaker revealed he “had this flood of ideas” once he figured out the basic pitch: “Apocalypto with apes.” Any comparison to a historical epic would’ve been wild, but bringing up Mel Gibson’s 2006 mercilessly bloody, one-of-a-kind movie should make everyone’s ears perk up. That movie depicted “a ferocious trip through a dangerous jungle in early 1500s Yucatán.” In it, a young man named Jaguar Paw, a late Mesoamerican hunter, and his fellow tribesmen are captured by an invading force and brought to a Mayan city for human sacrifice.

Now that we know Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes will follow the young ape hero Noa (Owen Teague) on a risky journey that brings him to a kingdom ruled by an evil tyrant called Proximus Caesar (Kevin Durand), we can kind of see where Ball is coming from. Still, we’re not expecting the tone and violence to be nearly as dire and hard-hitting, since Planet of the Apes remains a tentpole movie series.

This angle, however, feels logical if you stop to think about it. After all, the last Apes trilogy went from a straightforward sci-fi movie to a post-apocalyptic western to a stupefying finale about the unseen horrors of war. While the movies remained PG-13, they were hardly cheerful adventures for the whole family. 20th Century Studios’ Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes appears to be keeping that spirit alive, instantly making it one of the most appealing big-budget projects in Disney’s stacked release schedule for the next few years.

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