‘Planet of the Apes’ Team Ready for a Sequel … or Two

Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver already know what would happen in the second — and third — installments of the rebooted franchise — all they need is the go-ahead

There "haven’t been any official conversations.” But after big "Planet of the Apes" opening last weekend, the movie's writer/producers not only expect a sequel or two to — they are prepared for them.

They already know the story they want to tell, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver tell TheWrap.  Jaffa said that even in early drafts, they “set up things we’d like to play off in the next and even the next."  

"We’re definitely teed up. We feel very confident that there will be (a sequel), but at this point it’s still wait-and-see,” he said. 

While they did admit they are trying not to think too much about it (“Everyone is kind of superstitious,” Silver said), it does seem a good time to put superstition aside.

The movie is killing. In its first five days of release, it grossed $91.5 million worldwide. Its domestic gross for its opening weekend was $54.8 million.

On top of that, the critics loved it: It has an 82 percent Rotten Tomatoes score, and there is talk of Andy Serkis deserving an Oscar nod for his motion-capture performance as Caesar, the chimpanzee whose plight is the heart of the picture.

Also read: Andy Serkis: Can't a Guy With an Ape's Face Get Some Oscar Respect?

Their "Apes" project began in 2006, when married couple Jaffa and Silver were trying to figure out what their next project would be. Jaffa, who keeps a folder stuffed with news articles, “kept going back to these two articles about these chimpanzees who had been raised in homes as children and loved as children, and always, these situations ended up badly,” Silver said. “The chimps would grow up and become naturally more aggressive.”

Jaffa said he knew there was a movie in that story. 

Then one day, he thought, “Planet of the Apes.”

“He said, ‘I’ve found a way to reboot ‘Planet of the Apes,’ and I laughed nervously,” Silver said. “Then he started talking about the chimpanzee and the character of Young Caesar was born. We started talking about this chimpanzee who feels very human but isn’t human. We just fell in love with him.”

From there, the story came together very quickly.

But they were sure the movie itself couldn't. “We thought, Fox must already be developing something,” Silver said. “In fact, the idea felt so good we thought, ‘They’re probably developing this idea.'”

Jaffa, a former agent at the William Morris Agency, and Silver, the granddaughter of blacklisted “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” screenwriter Sidney Buchman, put together a meeting at Fox.

To their surprise, studio executives loved the idea of revisiting "Apes" — despite Tim Burton's much maligned 2001 reboot. But still there were reasons to be intimidated. The 1968 original was written by Rod Serling and Michael Wilson — “so that’s a little bit of pressure,” Jaffa said.

They knew that fans of the original movies would be dubious, so they kept to the "Planet" mythology —  and "we have lots of Easter eggs in there and fun little things and surprises that hearken back to the earlier movies," Jaffa said.

It wasn’t clear at that point whether the motion-capture technology would be impressive.

“So we tried to separate that out and just concentrate on the characters,” Silver said. “The crazy thing about this story is, yes it has action, yes it’s science fiction and maybe you could say adventure-thriller, but at its heart, it’s a character picture.”

By sticking to that and sticking to a theme – hubris can be humanity’s downfall – they stayed focused.

They credit director Rupert Wyatt for pulling great performances out of the actors. And they credit the studio for sticking with the project with the uncertainty of the motion-capture technology.

They said watching Serkis (above, with his character) perform onset was like watching Charlie Chaplin – except in a gray leotard.

“I’ll never forget it,” Jaffa added. “The first shot that came in was of Andy, and he has set the virus loose, or set the 113 loose in the primate house … He’s waiting to see if it took effect and he does that side-glance as Tom Felton walks past. We all screamed and juMped up in the air and it was, ‘Oh my God, it’s going to work.’ It’s literally one-and-a-half seconds.”

Now, Jaffa and Silver are pitching some television ideas and have a time-travel movie set up at Sony.

"We've been writing together over 20 years," Jaffa said. "We write a variety."