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Phillip Noyce (born 29 April 1950) is an Australian film director. He released his first professional film in 1977. Noyce went on to work in Australian television before directing the thriller Dead Calm (1989), followed by the Tom Clancy spy thriller Patriot Games (1992) and it's sequel and Noyce's greatest commercial success to date, Clear and Present Danger (1994).

By December 1993, Don Murphy and Jane Hamsher, producers of Natural Born Killers, had successfully pitched the idea of a Planet of the Apes revival to 20th Century Fox. Oliver Stone (Natural Born Killers director) signed on as executive producer/co-writer.[1] Stone's preference was for a story based on apes from an ancient civilization, with biblical connections. He explained in December 1993, "It has the discovery of cryogenically frozen Vedic Apes who hold the secret numeric codes to the Bible that foretold the end of civilizations. It deals with past versus the future. My concept is that there's a code inscribed in the Bible that predicts all historical events. The apes were there at the beginning and figured it all out."[2]

Stone recruited Terry Hayes to write the screenplay, having previously had hits with Dead Calm, Mad Max 2 - The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.[1] Titled Return of the Apes, Hayes' screenplay was set in the near future where a plague is making humans extinct. Geneticist Will Robinson discovers the plague is a genetic time bomb embedded in the Stone Age. He time travels with a pregnant colleague named Billie Rae Diamond to a time when Palaeolithic humans were at war for the future of the planet with highly-evolved apes. Robinson and Diamond discover a young human girl named Aiv (pronounced Eve) to be the next step in evolution. They protect her from the virus, thus ensuring the survival of the human race 102,000 years later. Billie Rae gives birth to a baby boy named Adam.[3]

In March 1994, Oliver Stone secured the interest of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who signed on as Will Robinson with the condition he had approval of director. Chuck Russell was considered as a possibility before Hayes' former colleague Phillip Noyce was selected in January 1995, and pre-production was planned with a $100 million budget.[4] Stone first approached Rick Baker, who had worked on Adam Rifkin's failed remake, to design the prosthetic makeup, but eventually opted for Stan Winston. A later, uncorroborated, rumor claimed that Ben Kingsley was in line for the role of the scientist who travels back in time, with Schwarzenegger cast as the leader of the Stone Age men in the distant past - a role perhaps more suited to the muscular action figure.[5]

Schwarzenegger anticipated a violent, gory interpretation of Stone's conspiracy-theory concept.[1] Yet, while Peter Chernin called Hayes' time-travel action romp "one of the best scripts I ever read", and hoped it would create a franchise that included sequels, spin-off television shows and merchandise, Fox became frustrated by the distance between their approach and Hayes' interpretation.[3][6] According to Jane Hamsher, Fox studio executive Dylan Sellers felt the script could be improved by including comedy elements. "What if Robinson finds himself in Ape land and the Apes are trying to play baseball? But they're missing one element, like the pitcher or something," Hamsher quoted Sellers, "Robinson knows what they're missing and he shows them, and they all start playing." Sellers refused to give up his baseball idea, and when Hayes turned in his final draft in spring 1995, sans baseball scene, Sellers fired him.[7] As Don Murphy put it, "Terry wrote a 'Terminator' and Fox wanted 'The Flintstones'". Dissatisfied with Sellers' decision to fire Hayes, Phillip Noyce left Return of the Apes in February 1995 to work on The Saint.[1] He would later achieve great acclaim for Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002) and The Quiet American (2002).

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