Set Visit: Everything You Need To Know About War For the Planet of the Apes

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

Rebooting a franchise can often be a tall order, particularly when launching your project in a time when anything that evokes nostalgia will be scrutinized harshly by the very audience you’re hoping to entertain. Most days, all it takes is a few images of concept art, alternate castings, or the announcement of re-shoots for fans to ‘release the hounds’ by expressing their fury via social media. By all accounts, I believe that a tip of my hat to the creative forces behind the reinvigorated PLANET OF THE APES franchise is well deserved.

It's been almost three years since DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES rocked the Summer box office, and soon, 20th Century Fox, director Matt Reeves, and returning cast members of this series of evolutionary proportions will convene once more for WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES. Since the 2011 debut of RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES, fans of science fiction cinema have been captivated by the journey of Caesar, the evolved chimpanzee, and his growing army of ape allies. Since that time, the thrill and spectacle of the franchise has grown by leaps and bounds, thanks in no small part to the dedicated cast and crew, and WETA’s cutting-edge visual effects department. To say that my day spent with the team was a fascinating experience would be an understatement, and come June 14th, 2017, everyone else will get to witness the war between ape and humankind as it commences!

Seeing as how exploring and writing about various methods of creating special effects and animation is my bread and butter here at Joblo, you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to visit the set of WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES in Vancouver, British Columbia. After a brief self-guided tour of the city’s upscale theater district, and enjoying a matinee of STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS, I, as well as other members of the internet press, were transported to a remote location on the outskirts of town. I spent the afternoon exploring the faux snow-covered Tower Rock Armory, interviewing key members of the cast and crew, and learning all about the latest installment in one of the most successful and iconic science fiction franchises of the past decade.

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for, here are the highlights from the entire set visit, all arranged in a convenient bullet point format for your enjoyment. For the full, in-depth interviews, click HERE and HERE.

The film takes place roughly 2 years after the events of DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.

What transpires in this film will serve to position apes as the leading species on the planet.

The narrative of the film will be focus heavily on the war within Caesar, and how he leads his army into a conflict he didn’t start but feels responsible for.

The spoken English language will become Caesar’s primary method of communication throughout this chapter of his journey.

The film will continue to pay homage to the original PLANET OF THE APES series while continuing to expand on the mythos in new and exciting ways.

Through circumstances unbeknownst to me at this time, an alliance will be formed between man and ape to fight side by side as a part of the war effort.

The apes will wield self-made weapons while riding on horseback for a good portion of the film. 

Many of Koba’s followers have defected from the main group after Caesar killed Koba during the finale of DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.

Several of the apes featured in the film will be seen walking upright and communicating with one another in more advanced ways than in past installments of the series.

The works of Akira Kurosawa, Stanley Kubric, and Oliver Stone were all major influences in the crafting of WAR’s gritty battle-torn presentation.  

WETA has stated that they’re taking motion-capture technology to the next level with this entry to the series, and that filming in the snow played a major role in the inventing of new methods of filming to compensate for the wintery setting.

Together with his father and brother, actor Terry Notary designed and produced a new form of arm stilt that has revolutionized the art of motion-capture. It’s been said after the patent is in place, his invention will likely become an industry standard.

It has been confirmed that Steve Zahn will play a new ape character in the film.

The film will be shot entirely using 65mm film and will then be converted for the purposes of viewing the action in 3D.

An abandoned child character will begrudgingly become an important member of Caesar’s traveling militia.

Both Andy Serkis and Terry Notary have considered assuming the roles of human characters in addition to their ape performances.

Because the technology at WETA keeps advancing throughout the years, WAR will feature a refined presentation of the ape characters both new and old.

Several noteworthy advancements were made to the motion-capture suits before filming began, allowing the actors to perform far more comfortably than compared with the making of the previous installments.

It can take up to 40 hours to render a single frame of an ape character.

Dylan Clarke and I totally bonded over our love for the music of David Bowie.

Huzzah! That said, there’s still plenty more information available, so be sure to check out our interviews with actors Andy Serkis, Terry Notary, and Karen Konoval, in addition to the film’s producer, Dylan Clarke below!




About the Author

Born and raised in New York, then immigrated to Canada, Steve Seigh has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. He started with Ink & Pixel, a column celebrating the magic and evolution of animation, before launching the companion YouTube series Animation Movies Revisited. He's also the host of the Talking Comics Podcast, a personality-driven audio show focusing on comic books, film, music, and more. You'll rarely catch him without headphones on his head and pancakes on his breath.