War for the Planet of the Apes is a 2017 American science fiction drama film directed by Matt Reeves and written by Mark Bomback and Reeves. A sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), it is the third and final installment in the Planet of the Apes reboot series. The film stars Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson and Steve Zahn, and follows a confrontation between the apes, led by Caesar, and the humans for control of Earth. Like its predecessor, its premise shares several similarities to the fifth film in the original series, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, but it is not a direct remake.
Principal photography began on October 14, 2015, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. War for the Planet of the Apes premiered in New York City on July 10, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States on July 14, 2017, by 20th Century Fox. The film has grossed over $490 million and received critical praise, with many reviewers highlighting the performances (particularly Serkis), visual effects, story, direction, and musical score. The film received a nomination for Best Special Visual Effects at the 71st British Academy Film Awards, and was also nominated for Best Visual Effects at the 90th Academy Awards. It was also nominated for four Saturn Awards, including Best Director for Reeves and Best Actor for Serkis.
|War for the Planet of the Apes|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Matt Reeves|
|Music by||Michael Giacchino|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$490.7 million|
Two years have passed since the human-hating bonobo Koba attacked the human survivors in San Francisco. Since then, Caesar and his tribe of intelligent apes have been forced against a rogue U.S. military faction known as Alpha-Omega. Led by a ruthless Colonel, Alpha-Omega employs many apes formerly loyal to Koba, derogatorily called "donkeys".
An Alpha-Omega platoon launches an attack on an ape outpost, but it fails and four soldiers, including one named Preacher and a "donkey" gorilla named Red, are captured. Caesar releases the soldiers, hoping the display of mercy will show the Colonel that the apes are not savages; Red escapes by injuring the albino gorilla Winter. Later, Caesar's eldest son Blue Eyes and lieutenant Rocket return from a long journey. Blue Eyes reports that they found a place across the desert that is ideal for the apes. Despite an uneasy Winter asserting that the apes should leave immediately, Caesar decides they need to prepare first. That night, the Colonel leads a team of soldiers in infiltrating the apes' home, where he kills Blue Eyes and Caesar's wife Cornelia. Upon discovering this, Caesar attempts to prevent the Colonel's escape but fails. Afterward, the apes are unable to find Winter, who they believe betrayed them out of fear.
In the morning, the tribe gathers to journey to safety. Leaving his youngest son, Cornelius, in the care of Blue Eyes' wife Lake, Caesar departs to exact revenge while serving as the decoy for the other apes. Accompanied by Rocket, his orangutan adviser Maurice, and his gorilla lieutenant Luca, the apes enter a seemingly abandoned village, where they come upon a soldier who deserted the Colonel's army. Caeser kills him in self-defense. They then discover a mute girl, who Maurice befriends and adopts, giving her a small rag doll. They then find Winter at a beachside military camp, having become a "donkey". They confront Winter, who tells Caesar that the Colonel departed for the border, to meet more soldiers. Winter then attempts to call out for help, but the other apes restrain him, and Caesar accidentally suffocates him. While following the military, the apes discover soldiers who have been shot and left for dead. Their examination of a surviving soldier reveals that he is mute like the girl. Caesar then kills him in an act of mercy.
Later, the apes give chase after a hooded figure who stole one of their horses and are surprised to discover he is an intelligent ape from another zoo, named Bad Ape. While camping with Bad Ape, they discover that he knows where the border is and he hesitantly agrees to lead them there. The group reaches the border, where they see a quarantine facility. While attempting to get a closer look, Luca is killed protecting Caesar from some soldiers. An angered Caesar decides to proceed alone rather than continue to endanger his allies. While there, however, Caesar learns that Alpha-Omega captured his tribe and are forcing them to build a wall without food or water. Caesar is then captured by Red, who brings him to the Colonel. He is forced to work with the other apes, and when he inspires them to stop working, the Colonel threatens to kill Caesar to get the apes to continue.
Caesar deduces that the Colonel is barricading the facility to fend off other military forces who are against him for killing his own soldiers. The Colonel informs Caesar that the Simian Flu virus had mutated, and the human carriers subsequently became mute and devolved into a primitive state. He then has Caesar tortured with starvation to force the other apes to work. The mute girl, named Nova by Maurice, sneaks into the facility to give Caesar food, water, and her rag doll. To prevent her from being discovered, Rocket allows himself to be captured as a diversion. The next day, the Colonel comes to see if Caesar is still alive, and confiscates the doll upon discovering it. Together, Caesar and Rocket are able to work out a means of escape via an underground tunnel leading out of the facility. Though the plan is successful, Caesar remains behind to confront the Colonel as the facility comes under attack by the army of dissenting soldiers. However, he finds the Colonel infected by the virus via contact with Nova's doll. Caesar chooses not to kill the Colonel, instead watching him commit suicide.
The escaping apes are caught in the crossfire between the two armies while Red watches uncertainly. Caesar attempts to blow up a large fuel tank to take out the Alpha-Omega forces from behind, but he is shot with a crossbow by Preacher. Red then uses a grenade launcher to kill Preacher and save Caesar's life before he is shot dead by a soldier. Caesar succeeds in blowing up the tank and escapes the facility as it is consumed in a cascade of explosions, which then triggers an avalanche that wipes out the dissenting soldiers. The apes, carrying Nova, all survive by climbing nearby trees. They then cross the desert to find an oasis. While the other apes celebrate their new home, Maurice discovers Caesar's fatal wound. He promises to tell Cornelius who his father was and what he did for the apes. Caesar then dies peacefully while Maurice mourns his death and the other apes look on.
After seeing his cut of Dawn, 20th Century Fox and Chernin Entertainment signed Matt Reeves to return as director for a third installment of the reboot series. In January 2014, the studio announced the third film, with Reeves returning to direct and co-write along with Bomback, and Peter Chernin, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver serving as producers. During an interview in mid-November 2014 with MTV, Andy Serkis said they did not know the next film's setting. "...It could be five years after the event. It could be the night after the events of where we left 'Dawn.'" In May 2015, the title was first given as War of the Planet of the Apes. By October 2015, it had been retitled as War for the Planet of the Apes.
When director Reeves and screenwriter Bomback came on board to helm Dawn, the film already had a release date, which led to an accelerated production schedule. However, with the third installment, Fox wanted to give the duo plenty of time to write and make the film. Taking advantage of this, the two bonded with each other more than before.
In interviews for Dawn, Reeves talked about the inevitable war Caesar would have with the humans: "As this story continues, we know that war is not avoided by the end of Dawn. That is going to take us into the world of what he is grappling with. Where he is going to be thrust into circumstances that he never, ever wanted to deal with, and was hoping he could avoid. And now he is right in the middle of it. The things that happen in that story test him in huge ways, in the ways in which his relationship with Koba haunts him deeply. It’s going to be an epic story. I think you’ve probably read that I sort of described it where in the first film was very much about his rise from humble beginnings to being a revolutionary. The second movie was about having to rise to the challenge of being a great leader in the most difficult of times. This is going to be the story that is going to cement his status as a seminal figure in ape history, and sort of leads to an almost biblical status. He is going to become like a mythic ape figure, like Moses."
Toby Kebbell, who portrayed Koba in Dawn, had expressed interest in reprising his role or performing as other characters. Plans to include Koba in a larger role in the film were abandoned early, with Bomback saying, "If you stayed until the very end of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, you hear Koba’s breathing. We did that to give us a tiny crack of a possibility that we could revive Koba if we wanted to. Very early on in spitballing, we realized there was nothing more to do with Koba – certainly nothing that would exceed what he had done in the last story. But we knew we wanted to keep him alive as an idea. In playing out the reality of what happened at the end of the last film, Caesar would be traumatized by having to kill his brother. That would have resonance, and we wanted to make sure that did not get lost. So the answer was that we could go inside Caesar’s mind at this point and revisit Koba that way."
In August 2015, Deadline reported that Gabriel Chavarria had been cast as one of the humans in the film. In September 2015, The Hollywood Reporter announced that Woody Harrelson had been cast as the film's antagonist, and that Chavarria's role was supporting. In October 2015, TheWrap reported that Steve Zahn was cast as a new ape in the film. It was also announced that actress Amiah Miller was cast as one of the film's humans, with Judy Greer and Karin Konoval reprising their roles as Cornelia and Maurice, while Aleks Paunovic and Sara Canning were cast as new apes.
Principal photography on the film began on October 14, 2015 in the Lower Mainland in Vancouver, under the working title Hidden Fortress. Filming was expected to take place there until early March 2016. Parts of the film were expected to shoot for up to five days in the Kananaskis in late January and early February. In March, Serkis confirmed that he had finished shooting his portions.
As with Rise and Dawn, the visual effects for War were created by Weta Digital; the apes were created with a mixture of motion-capture and CGI key-frame animation, as they were performed in motion-capture technology and animated in CGI.
At New York Comic-Con 2016, Reeves explained that he and Bomback were influenced by many films before writing. He said, "One of the first things that Mark and I did because we had just finished Dawn was that we decided to watch a million movies. We decided to do what people fantasize what Hollywood screenwriters get to do but no one actually does. We got Fox to give us a theater and we watched movie after movie. We watched every Planet of the Apes movie, war movies, westerns, Empire Strikes Back... We just thought, 'We have to pretend we have all the time in the world,' even though we had limited time. We got really inspired."
Additionally, during production, Reeves and Bomback sought broader inspirations from films like The Bridge on the River Kwai and The Great Escape. Feeling that there was a need to imbue Biblical themes and elements, they also watched Biblical epics like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments. The influences and inspirations were made evident in the relationship between Caesar and Woody Harrelson's Colonel, a military leader with pretensions toward godhood. Reeves has compared their relationship to the dynamic between Alec Guinness's British Commander and Sessue Hayakawa's prison camp Colonel in Bridge on the River Kwai. Another comparison is in Caesar's journey to find the Colonel, flanked by a posse of close friends – a situation Reeves explicitly tied to Clint Eastwood's war-weary soldier in The Outlaw Josey Wales. Influences from the film Apocalypse Now, notably Harrelson's character and his Alpha-Omega faction being similar to Colonel Kurtz's renegade army, were also noted by several journalists. Harrelson has also acknowledged the similarities and inspiration.
|War for the Planet of the Apes|
|Soundtrack album by Michael Giacchino|
|Released||July 7, 2017 (Digital)
July 21, 2017 (Physical)
|Michael Giacchino film scores chronology|
On October 17, 2015, it was confirmed that Michael Giacchino, the composer and writer of the soundtrack for Dawn, would return to compose War's score. The soundtrack was digitally released to iTunes and Amazon on July 7, 2017, and in its physical form by Sony Masterworks on July 21, 2017.
Special behind-the-scenes footage for the film was aired on TV on November 22, 2015, as part of a contest announcement presented by director Matt Reeves and Andy Serkis. The footage aired during The Walking Dead on AMC. The announcement allowed winners to wear a performance-capture suit and appear in a scene as an ape. The announcement was released on 20th Century Fox's official YouTube page later the same day.
Serkis has also mentioned that the film would be accompanied by a video game, for which he performed motion capture. Titled Planet of the Apes: Last Frontier, the game was released for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC in fall 2017.
War for the Planet of the Apes grossed $146.9 million in the United States and Canada and $343.8 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $490.7 million, against a production budget of $150 million.
In North America, the film was projected to gross $50–60 million in its opening weekend, however, given its acclaimed status and strong word-of-mouth, rival studios believed the film had the potential to debut as high as $70–80 million. War was closely monitored by analysts while the summer was witnessing a decline in ticket sales, a situation that they blamed on franchise fatigue for an overabundance of sequels and reboots (such as Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Transformers: The Last Knight and The Mummy). However, box office analysts noted that well-reviewed films have tended to perform in-line with estimates (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming). The film grossed $5 million from Thursday night previews at 3,021 theaters, up 22% from the $4.1 million earned by its predecessor, and $22.1 million on its first day. It went on to debut to $56.3 million, topping the box office, albeit with a 22% drop from Dawn's $72.6 million debut. In its second weekend, the film grossed $20.9 million (a drop of 62.9%, more than the 50.4% fall Dawn saw), finishing 4th at the box office. In its third weekend, the film made $10.5 million (dropping another 49.9%), finishing 6th at the box office. It was lower than the third weeks of both Rise ($16.1 million) and Dawn ($16.8 million).
Outside North America, War for the Planet of the Apes received a scattered release in a span of three months (July–September). The film began its release in about a third of the marketplace on July 14, albeit only in two major markets, and was projected to have an opening of $50–60 million, with the potential to go higher if smaller Asian markets over-perform, as they have for recent tent poles. The film ended up having an international debut of $44.2 million, including $9.27 million in the United Kingdom.
War for the Planet of the Apes received praise for the cast's performances (particularly Serkis), Reeves's direction, visual effects, musical score, cinematography and its morally complex storyline. On review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 93% based on 296 reviews, with a rating average of 8.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "War for the Planet of the Apes combines breathtaking special effects and a powerful, poignant narrative to conclude this rebooted trilogy on a powerful – and truly blockbuster – note." On review aggregator Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating to reviews, the film has a score of 82 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A–" on an A+ to F scale, the same score earned by its two immediate predecessors.
Scott Collura of IGN awarded the film a score of 9.5 out of 10, saying: "War for the Planet of the Apes is an excellent closing act to this rebooted trilogy, but also one that does enough world-building that the series can potentially continue from here – and it’s a rare case where, after three movies, we’re left wanting more." A.O. Scott of The New York Times said of the film, "“War for the Planet of the Apes,” directed by Matt Reeves, is the grimmest episode so far, and also the strongest, a superb example — rare in this era of sloppily constructed, commercially hedged cinematic universes — of clear thinking wedded to inventive technique in popular filmmaking," and lauded Andy Serkis's performance in the film, stating that "Andy Serkis’s performance as Caesar is one of the marvels of modern screen acting."
Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, and said that Serkis performed "with a resonant power and depth of feeling that's nearly Shakespearean. Oscar, get busy: Serkis deserves the gold," and went on to say that "War for the Planet of the Apes – No. 9 in the simian cinema canon – is the best of the Apes films since the 1968 original." Eric Kohn of Indiewire gave the film a B+ rating, and praised Matt Reeves's directing, saying "It’s a given that an expensive 21st century sci-fi movie with talking animals, exploding tanks, and jarring machine guns would look and sound great, but Reeves applies these effects with such a measured strategy that they’re always working in service of a greater narrative agenda." Kohn went on to applaud the visuals and musical score, stating that "The breathlessly paced montage of flying bullets and angry monkeys raining down on terrified men, aided by Michael Giacchino’s vibrant score, is a strong indicator of the next-level craftsmanship that distinguishes these movies from so many cacophonous Hollywood spectacles; not only is the action easy to follow, but you care for the motion-captured characters at the center of it, while the humans cower in fear."
|List of awards and nominations|
|Award||Date of ceremony||Category||Recipient(s) and nominee(s)||Result||Ref.|
|Golden Trailer Awards||June 6, 2017||Best Motion/Title Graphics||War for the Planet of the Apes: 20th Century Fox, Wild Card||Nominated|||
|Best Summer 2017 Blockbuster TV Spot|
|Hollywood Film Awards||November 5, 2017||Hollywood Visual Effects Award||Dan Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, and Erik Winquist||Won|||
|Hollywood Post Alliance||November 16, 2017||Outstanding Visual Effects - Feature Film||Dan Barrett, Anders Langlands, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, Luke Millar, Erik Winquist, and Weta Digital||Won|||
|Teen Choice Awards||August 13, 2017||Choice Movie: Summer||20th Century Fox||Nominated|
|Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association||December 8, 2017||Best Motion Capture Performance||Andy Serkis||Won|||
|Best Motion Capture Performance||Steve Zahn||Nominated|
|San Francisco Film Critics Circle||December 10, 2017||Best Actor||Andy Serkis||Won|||
|Best Original Score||Michael Giacchino||Nominated|
|San Diego Film Critics Society||December 11, 2017||Best Visual Effects||War for the Planet of the Apes||Won|||
|Chicago Film Critics Association||December 12, 2017||Best Original Score||Michael Giacchino||Nominated|||
|Seattle Film Critics Society||December 18, 2017||Best Original Score||Michael Giacchino||Nominated|||
|Best Visual Effects||Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Dan Barrett, and Joel Whist||Won|
|Utah Film Critics Association||Best Actor||Andy Serkis||Won|||
|Los Angeles Online Film Critics Society||December 19, 2017||Best Animated / Visual Effect Performance||Andy Serkis||Won|||
|Best Score||Michael Giacchino||Nominated|
|Best Action / War||War for the Planet of the Apes||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects||Won|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society||Best Visual Effects||War for the Planet of the Apes||Won|||
|North Carolina Film Critics Association||December 29, 2017||Best Special Effects||War for the Planet of the Apes||Won|||
|Columbus Film Critics Association||January 4, 2018||Actor of the Year (for an exemplary body of work)||Woody Harrelson||Runner-up|||
|Golden Tomato Awards||January 3, 2018||Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Movie 2017||War for the Planet of the Apes||2nd Place|||
|Houston Film Critics Society||January 6, 2018||Best Actor||Andy Serkis||Nominated|||
|Best Original Score||Michael Giacchino|
|Best Visual Effects||War for the Planet of the Apes|
|Critics' Choice Movie Awards||January 11, 2018||Best Action Movie||War for the Planet of the Apes||Nominated|||
|Best Visual Effects||Won|
|Georgia Film Critics Association||January 12, 2018||Best Actor||Andy Serkis||Nominated|||
|Best Original Score||Michael Giacchino||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||January 21, 2018||Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture||War for the Planet of the Apes||Nominated|||
|Art Directors Guild||January 27, 2018||Excellence in Production Design for a Fantasy Film||James Chinlund||Nominated|||
|Annie Awards||February 3, 2018||Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in a Live Action Production||Daniel Barrett, Sidney Kombo-Kintombo, Emile Ghorayeb, Luisma Lavin Peredo, and Alessandro Bonora||Won|||
|Satellite Awards||February 10, 2018||Best Film Editing||William Hoy||Won|||
|Best Original Score||Michael Giacchino||Nominated|
|Best Sound||War for the Planet of the Apes||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects||Nominated|
|Visual Effects Society Awards||February 13, 2018||Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature||Joe Letteri, Ryan Stafford, Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joel Whist||Won|||
|Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature||Eteuati Tema, Aidan Martin, Florian Fernandez, Mathias Larserud for "Bad Ape"||Nominated|
|Dennis Yoo, Ludovic Chailloleau, Douglas McHale, Tim Forbes for "Caesar"||Won|
|Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature||Chris McLaughlin, Ryan Salcombe, Seungjin Woo, Francesco Dell'Anna for "Hidden Fortress"||Nominated|
|Phillip Leonhardt, Paul Harris, Jeremy Fort, Thomas Lo for "Prison Camp"||Nominated|
|Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature||David Caeiro Cebrian, Johnathan Nixon, Chet Leavai, Gary Boyle||Won|
|Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Feature||Christoph Salzmann, Robin Hollander, Ben Morgan, Ben Warner||Won|
|British Academy Film Awards||February 18, 2018||Best Special Visual Effects||Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, and Joel Whist||Nominated|||
|Golden Reel Awards||February 18, 2018||Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Dialogue / ADR||Supervising Sound Editors: Douglas Murray, Will Files; Supervising Dialogue Editor: R.J. Kizer; Vocal Editors: Kim Foscato, P.K. Hooker, Doug Jackson, Lindsay Alvarez; ADR Editors: Laura Graham, and Jim Brookshire||Won|||
|Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Effects / Foley||Supervising Sound Editors: Douglas Murray, Will Files; Sound Effects Editors: David Grimaldi, Jack Whittaker, Ken McGill, P.K. Hooker, Doug Jackson, Lindsay Alvarez; Foley Editors: John Morris, Matthew Harrison, Thom Brennan, Willard Overstreet; Foley Artists: Dan O'Connell, and John T. Cucci||Nominated|
|International Film Music Critics Association Awards||February 22, 2018||Score of the Year||Michael Giacchino||Nominated|||
|Best Original Score for a Fantasy/Science Fiction/Horror Film||Michael Giacchino||Won|
|Film Music Composition of the Year||"End Credits" from War for the Planet of the Apes by Michael Giacchino||Won|
|Academy Awards||March 4, 2018||Best Visual Effects||Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, and Joel Whist||Nominated|||
|Saturn Awards||June 2018||Best Science Fiction Film||Peter Chernin, Dylan Clark, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver||Pending|||
|Best Director||Matt Reeves||Pending|
|Best Actor||Andy Serkis||Pending|
|Best Special Effects||Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Joel Whist||Pending|