The world truly belongs to the apes in the first trailer for “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes.”
Set generations after the 2017 trilogy capper, “Kingdom” concerns the legacy of Ceasar’s reign, with multiple ape societies flourishing. The trailer is mostly voiceover, with a young ape opining about visions that may be memories or might be something more. The rest of the 106-second trailer, which you can watch above, is a series of visually dynamic but narratively cryptic images, showing off a new status quo where the apes are the uncontested leaders while what’s left of humanity exists in a feral state.
The new installment comes courtesy of director Wes Ball. He earned plaudits for directing all three chapters of the mid-2010s “Maze Runner” series. This film, penned by Josh Friedman, Rich Jaffa, Amanda Silver and Patrick Aison, stars William H. Macy, Owen Teague, Freya Allan, Peter Macon, Eka Darville, Dichen Lachman and Kevin Durand.
As implied via the synopsis, it is not a reboot but rather a continuation of the previous “Apes” trilogy. That 2011-2017 series earned fortune and glory in the mid-2010s. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and “War for the Planet of the Apes” were shockingly dark and often brutally violent sci-fi action dramas, offering a deeply cynical end-of-the-world narrative.
Despite, or because of, their grim and often hopeless tone, they earned a rousing $1.684 billion worldwide. They helped turn “Dawn” and “War” helmer Matt Reeves into a marquee filmmaker among in-the-know film nerds. They also became a high-water mark among the deluge of IP reboots that followed Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins.”
The Walt Disney Company sees the “Planet of the Apes” brand as a key piece of IP found within the formally Fox (and now 20th Century Studios) war chest. It has been cited as an example of a brand that still presumably justifies big theatrical budgets and marketing campaigns. To be fair, the brand has always been popular, from the trendsetting 1968 classic to the critically panned but commercially successful ($368 million on a $100 million budget) Tim Burton-directed 2001 remake to the most recent trilogy.
Yes, this is another case of an IP getting a theatrical relaunch because of its former box office glory. However, it has the advantage of being a continuation of a series that audiences found… appealing right up to the end. “Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” opens May 24, 2024. Time will tell if audiences go bananas for it once again.