Rise of the Planet of the Apes

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes
The poster says the title of the film on a black background with one of the apes' faces filling the letters. This also includes release information and credits.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRupert Wyatt
Written by
Based onPremise suggested by Planet of the Apes
by Pierre Boulle
Produced by
CinematographyAndrew Lesnie
Edited by
Music byPatrick Doyle
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • August 5, 2011 (2011-08-05)
Running time
105 minutes[1][2]
CountryUnited States[3][4]
Budget$93 million[2][5]
Box office$481.8 million[2]

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a 2011 American science fiction action film[1][4][6] directed by Rupert Wyatt from a screenplay by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. It is a reboot of the Planet of the Apes film franchise,[7] which is based on the 1963 novel Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. It stars Andy Serkis as Caesar, alongside James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, and David Oyelowo. In the film, Caesar, a chimpanzee genetically enhanced by William Rodman (Franco), leads an ape uprising against members of humanity.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes first entered development in 2006 when Jaffa and Silver wrote a screenplay and sold it to 20th Century Fox, the producers and distributors of the original franchise. The film features homages and drew inspiration from previous entries, particularly Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972). Production struggled until Franco, Serkis, and Wyatt were hired by late 2009, and principal photography started in July 2010 and finished that September, with filming locations including Vancouver, San Francisco, and Oahu. The apes were created using extensive visual effects and performance capture commissioned by Weta Digital.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was theatrically released worldwide by 20th Century Fox on August 5, 2011. The film received positive reviews from critics, with praise for Wyatt's direction, visual effects, and Serkis' performance, which helped change perceptions on the recognition of acting through performance capture. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was also a commercial success, grossing over $481 million, and received numerous awards and nominations, including an Academy Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. It helped relaunch the franchise, and was followed by the sequel films Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), along with a fourth film currently in development.


In San Francisco, pharmaceutical chemist William Rodman is testing the viral-based drug ALZ-112 on chimpanzees at the biotech company Gen-Sys to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. ALZ-112 is given to a chimpanzee named Bright Eyes, greatly increasing her intelligence. However, during Will's presentation for the drug, Bright Eyes is forced from her cage, goes on a rampage, and is shot to death. Will's boss Steven Jacobs terminates the project and has the chimpanzees euthanized. However, Will's assistant Robert Franklin reveals that the reason for Bright Eyes' rampage was that she had recently given birth to an infant chimpanzee. Will reluctantly takes in the chimpanzee, eventually giving him the name Caesar. Discovering that Caesar has inherited his mother's intelligence through being exposed to ALZ-112 before birth, Will decides to raise him. Three years pass, and Caesar becomes highly intelligent and can play games, draw pictures, and communicate with Will through sign language. Will introduces Caesar to the redwood forest at Muir Woods National Monument so he can roam. Meanwhile, Will treats his father, Charles, with ALZ-112, which seems to restore his cognitive ability.

Five years later, Caesar, now a young adolescent, questions if he is a pet and learns of his origins from Will. Meanwhile, Charles' condition returns as his immune system becomes resistant to ALZ-112. Caesar injures an aggressive neighbor, Douglas Hunsiker, while defending a confused Charles. As a result, animal control arrives and takes him away to an ape shelter. Due to his difference in appearance and relative lack of interaction with other apes, Caesar is tormented by the alpha chimpanzee, Rocket, and the chief guard, Dodge Landon. However, Caesar also befriends Maurice, a former circus orangutan who also knows sign language. Caesar learns how to unlock his cage, gaining free access to the common area. With the assistance of Buck, a gorilla, he confronts Rocket and claims the position of the alpha chimpanzee. Meanwhile, Jacobs clears the development of a more powerful gaseous version of the drug, the ALZ-113, when Will tells him it can improve intelligence. Will takes the drug home for his father, but Charles declines further treatment and dies overnight. After attempting to test the drug on a scarred bonobo test subject called Koba, Franklin becomes exposed to ALZ-113 and becomes ill.

Attempting to warn Will at his home, he sneezes blood onto Hunsiker and is later discovered dead. Will attempts to reclaim Caesar, but Caesar instead decides to stay and steals the ALZ-113 canisters from Will's house and enhances the intelligence of the other apes in the sanctuary. When Dodge attempts to get him back into his cage, Caesar speaks for the first time, shouting "No" and fights with Dodge while freeing the apes, which inadvertently leads to Dodge's death. The apes flee the facility, releasing Koba and the remaining apes from Gen-Sys, and freeing more apes from the San Francisco Zoo. A battle ensues as the apes fight their way past a police blockade on the Golden Gate Bridge in an attempt to escape into the redwood forest. To rescue Caesar, Buck sacrifices himself to wreck a police helicopter in which Jacobs is riding. Koba then pushes Jacobs into the Golden Gate strait to his death. As the apes find their way into the forest, Will catches up to them in a stolen police car and warns Caesar that the humans will hunt them down, begging him to return home.

In response, Caesar hugs him and says, "Caesar is home". Realizing that this is their last goodbye, Will respects Caesar's wishes. The apes embrace their new lifestyle in the forest as news and police helicopters fly over San Francisco. Meanwhile, Hunsiker, now infected with ALZ-113, arrives at San Francisco International Airport for his flight to Paris. He eventually spreads the virus around the globe to international flight routes, leading to a deadly pandemic.


James Franco in 2013 (left) and Andy Serkis in 2017 (right)
  • James Franco as Dr. William "Will" Rodman, a chemist who is trying to discover a cure for his father's Alzheimer's disease by testing ALZ-112 on chimpanzees; he is a father figure to Caesar. Franco was cast after talks with Tobey Maguire broke down.[8][9]
  • Freida Pinto as Dr. Caroline Aranha, a primatologist who begins a relationship with Will and grows attached to Caesar.
  • John Lithgow as Charles Rodman, Will's father, former music teacher, whose Alzheimer's improves after Will gives him the ALZ-112. He forms a grandfatherly bond with Caesar.
  • Brian Cox as John Landon, manager of the San Bruno Primate Shelter where Caesar is confined.
  • Tom Felton as Dodge Landon, John's son and an animal caretaker at the shelter, who abuses the apes for sport. His name is a reference to the astronauts in the original Planet of the Apes.
  • David Oyelowo as Steven Jacobs, Will's supervisor at Gen-Sys.
  • Andy Serkis as Caesar, a chimpanzee whose intelligence is increased from being exposed in the womb to ALZ-112 when the drug is administered to his pregnant mother, and who is raised by Will.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes features an ape cast that includes Karin Konoval as the Bornean orangutan Maurice, Terry Notary as Rocket and Caesar's mother Bright Eyes, Richard Ridings as the western lowland gorilla Buck, Devyn Dalton as Cornelia, Jay Caputo as Caesar's father Alpha and Christopher Gordon as the treacherous bonobo Koba.

The human cast includes Tyler Labine as handler Robert Franklin, David Hewlett as Will's hot-headed neighbor Douglas Hunsiker, Jamie Harris as the ape sanctuary's caretaker Rodney, and Chelah Horsdal as Charles's nurse Irena.


Development and writing[edit]

In 2006, screenwriter-producer Rick Jaffa was searching for a script idea. As Jaffa searched a newspaper articles clipping, one about pet chimpanzees that become troublesome to their owners and heartbroken for not adapting well to the human environment intrigued him. As Jaffa eventually realized it fit the Planet of the Apes series, he called his wife and screenwriting partner Amanda Silver to express his ideas of such a chimpanzee eventually starting the ape revolution, and then the couple started developing the character of Caesar. Jaffa indicated that "it's a reinvention" and if he had to pick between calling it a prequel or a reboot he would say it is a reboot: "It's a different story of who Caesar is, and how he came to be. So it's really kind of hard to put a label on it. We are hopefully rebooting it." He went on to say that "we tried really hard to create a story that would stand on its own and yet also pay homage and honor the movies that came before us."[10] Jaffa and Silver then wrote a script and sold it to Fox, producers of the Apes franchise. The script added other elements which the couple had researched, such as genetic engineering.[11] Several tributes to specific scenes, characters, and cast and crew from the previous Apes film series were added in the script. In particular, Caesar's treatment at the primate sanctuary parallels Taylor's treatment as a captive in the original film.[12][13]

In a segment of a video blog post, director Rupert Wyatt commented on the originality of the plot: "This is part of the mythology and it should be seen as that. It's not a continuation of the other films; it's an original story. It does satisfy the people who enjoy those films. The point of this film is to achieve that and to bring that fan base into this film exactly like Batman Begins."[7] In a 2009 interview, Wyatt said, "We've incorporated elements from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, in terms of how the apes begin to revolt, but this is primarily a prequel to the 1968 film...Caesar is a revolutionary figure who will be talked about by his fellow apes for centuries...This is just the first step in the evolution of the apes, and there's a lot more stories to tell after this. I imagine the next film will be about the all-out war between the apes and humans."[14] Mark Bomback did an uncredited rewrite of the script.[15]


Filming began on July 27, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia.[16] Filming also happened in San Francisco, California (the primary setting of the film),[16] and around Oahu, Hawaii, which doubled for the African jungle as the schedule and budget did not allow for location shooting in Africa.[17]

Visual effects[edit]

As the apes in Rise were meant to be real, the producers decided not to use actors in suits. After considering real apes, instead Weta Digital created the apes digitally in almost every case through performance capture.[18][19][20][21] Advances in the technology allowed the use of performance capture in an exterior environment, affording the film-makers the freedom to shoot much of the film on location with other actors, as opposed to the confines of a soundstage.[22][23] The main breakthrough was a camera that enabled viewing the motion capture dots in daylight, employed mostly for the Golden Gate Bridge battle.[24] A maximum of six actors could have their movements captured, with larger ape crowds using fully digital animals animated using Weta's move library. The Golden Gate Bridge set used both a physical set which was extended digitally, and a fully computer-generated model of the bridge that also included the ocean and nearby hills.[25]

After shooting the actors playing humans interacting with others wearing the motion capture suits, a clean plate was shot with actors for extra reference. Actor-stuntman Terry Notary guided the actors on realistic ape movement, while Weta studied the chimps in the Wellington Zoo for reference. The digital apes also received detailed models with skeletons, muscles and nerve tissue layers for accurate animation. Cast models of apes' heads and limbs helped the texture department replicate skin details such as wrinkles and pores. Given the difference between human and chimpanzee facial muscles, the animators tweaked the performance through a new facial muscle system adding dynamics, ballistics, and secondary motion. As the silent performance required expressive eyes, a new eye model was made to depict both greater accuracy in muscle movement in and around the eyes, and also tears, pupil dilation, and light refraction.[18][26] While Andy Serkis was the primary performer for Caesar, as the effects team considered that at times "Andy overcame the character," other motion capture team actors were also used, especially Devyn Dalton, whose height matched that of a chimpanzee. Along with that, they used Notary to play Caesar in stunt-filled scenes such as the Golden Gate Bridge scene.[27]


The score for the film was written by Patrick Doyle and performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony conducted by James Shearman.[28] The main concern was to have the music help progress the plot in the scenes without dialogue, for instance, conveying the emotions of Caesar's relationships with Will and Charles. To turn the score into a "driving force that keeps audiences paying attention," Doyle employed an African-American chorus and focused on percussion and "low and deep" orchestra sounds. Doyle collaborated closely with the sound department to make the music complement the sound effects, including writing a recurring theme based on their recording of a chimpanzee.[29]


Box office[edit]

Rise of the Planet of the Apes made its debut in the United States and Canada on roughly 5,400 screens within 3,648 theaters.[30] The film was projected to gross around $35 million on its opening weekend.[31] It grossed $19,534,699 on opening day and $54,806,191 in its entire opening weekend, making it #1 for that weekend as well as the fourth-highest-grossing August opening ever.[32] The film held on to the #1 spot in its second weekend, dropping 49.2%, and grossing $27,832,307.[33] Rise of the Planet of the Apes crossed the $150 million mark in the United States and Canada on its 26th day of release. Entertainment Weekly said that this was quite an accomplishment for the film since the month of August is a difficult time for films to make money.[34]

The film ended its run at the box office on December 15, 2011, with a gross of $176,760,185 in the U.S. and Canada as well as $305,040,864 internationally, for a total of $481,801,049 worldwide.[2]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an 82% approval rating based on 272 reviews, with an average rating of 7.20/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "Led by Rupert Wyatt's stylish direction, some impressive special effects, and a mesmerizing performance by Andy Serkis, Rise of the Planet of the Apes breathes unlikely new life into a long-running franchise."[35] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 68 out of 100 based on 39 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[36] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[37]

Roger Ebert gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and praised the role of Caesar and Andy Serkis by stating it was a "wonderfully executed character" and "one never knows exactly where the human ends and the effects begin, but Serkis and/or Caesar gives the best performance in the movie."[38] Giving the film 5 out of 5 stars, Joe Neumaier of Daily News labeled Rise of the Planet of the Apes as the summer's best popcorn flick.[39] Nick Pinkerton of The Village Voice wrote, "Caesar's prison conversion to charismatic pan-ape revolutionist is near-silent filmmaking, with simple and precise images illustrating Caesar's General-like divining of personalities and his organization of a group from chaos to order."[40] Roger Moore of Orlando Sentinel wrote, "Audacious, violent and disquieting, "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is a summer sequel that's better than it has any right to be." He gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars.[41] Manohla Dargis of The New York Times praised the film by saying, "Precisely the kind of summer diversion that the studios have such a hard time making now. It's good, canny-dumb fun." She also gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars.[42]

Peter Travers of Rolling Stone noted that the film has mixed "twists lifted from 1972's Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and 1999's Deep Blue Sea".[43]

Home media[edit]

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and Digital copy on December 13, 2011.[44]


Award Category Recipient Result
84th Academy Awards Best Visual Effects Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists[45] Best Supporting Actor Andy Serkis Nominated
Annie Awards[46] Character Animation in a Live Action Production Eric Reynolds Won
65th British Academy Film Awards Best Special Visual Effects Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, and R. Christopher White Nominated
Broadcast Film Critics Association[47] Best Supporting Actor Andy Serkis Nominated
Best Visual Effects Won
Best Action Film Nominated
Empire Awards[48] Best Film Nominated
Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Nominated
Best Director Rupert Wyatt Nominated
Best Actor Andy Serkis Nominated
Genesis Awards Best Feature Film Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver Won
Houston Film Critics Society[49] Best Supporting Actor Andy Serkis Nominated
Technical Achievement Won
IGN Best of 2011[50] Best Movie Nominated
Best Sci-Fi Movie Won
Best Movie Actor Andy Serkis (also for The Adventures of Tintin) Nominated
Best Movie Director Rupert Wyatt Nominated
IGN Summer Movie Awards[51]
Best Summer Movie Nominated
Funniest Line "Why cookie Rocket?" Nominated
Best All-Out Brawl Apes vs. Humans on the Golden Gate Bridge Nominated
Favorite Kill Helicopter Pushed Over the Golden Gate Bridge Nominated
Coolest Creature Caesar Won
Favorite Hero Caesar – Andy Serkis Won
Las Vegas Film Critics Society[52] Best Visual Effects Won
London Film Critics Circle Technical Achievement Joe Letteri Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Best Visual Effects Nominated
San Diego Film Critics Society[53] Best Supporting Actor Andy Serkis Nominated
Satellite Awards[54] Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Andy Serkis Nominated
Best Visual Effects Jeff Capogreco, Joe Letteri, R. Christopher White Nominated
Saturn Awards[55] Best Science Fiction Film Won
Best Supporting Actor Andy Serkis Won
Best Director Rupert Wyatt Nominated
Best Writing Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver Nominated
Best Special Effects Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, R. Christopher White, and Daniel Barrett Won
Visual Effects Society[56] Outstanding Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Feature Motion Picture Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri, Cyndi Ochs, Kurt Williams Won
Outstanding Animated Character in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture Caesar – Daniel Barrett, Florian Fernandez, Matthew Muntean, Eric Reynolds Won
Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a Live Action Feature Motion Picture Thelvin Cabezas, Mike Perry, R. Christopher White, Erik Winquist Nominated
Outstanding Compositing in a Feature Motion Picture Jean-Luc Azzis, Quentin Hema, Simon Jung, Christoph Salzmann Nominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association[57] Best Supporting Actor Andy Serkis Nominated


Regarding the story setting up possible sequels, director Rupert Wyatt commented: "I think we're ending with certain questions, which is quite exciting. To me, I can think of all sorts of sequels to this film, but this is just the beginning."[58] Screenwriter and producer Rick Jaffa also stated that Rise of the Planet of the Apes would feature several clues as to future sequels: "I hope that we're building a platform for future films. We're trying to plant a lot of the seeds for a lot of the things you are talking about in terms of the different apes and so forth."[7]

On May 31, 2012, 20th Century Fox announced that the sequel would be named Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.[59] Reports said that Wyatt was leaving the sequel due to his concern that a May 2014 release date would not give him enough time to properly make the film;[60] he was replaced by Cloverfield director Matt Reeves.[61] Jaffa and Silver returned as producers and to pen the screenplay, with rewrites from Scott Z. Burns[62] and Mark Bomback.[15]

Taking place ten years after Rise, Dawn follows Caesar's growing nation of evolved apes. Andy Serkis, Terry Notary and Karin Konoval reprise their roles as Caesar, Rocket and Maurice.[63] James Franco returned as Will Rodman in a "cameo via video".[64] Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was released July 11, 2014.

On January 6, 2014, 20th Century Fox announced a third installment with Reeves returning to direct and co-write along with Bomback, with a planned July 2016 release.[65][66] In January 2015, Fox delayed the release to July 14, 2017.[67][68] On May 14, 2015, the title was given as War of the Planet of the Apes,[69] later re-titled to War for the Planet of the Apes.

On December 3, 2019, it was reported that Wes Ball is currently set to direct an untitled Planet of the Apes film.[70] It is unknown whether Ball's film will serve as a follow-up to War for the Planet of the Apes or if it will be a reboot.[70]

However, back in August 2019, it was confirmed that any future installments would take place in the same universe first established in Rise.[71]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]