This continuity of Planet of the Apes movies, books and comics is based around the movies produced by Chernin Entertainment in 2011, 2014 and 2017, inspired by the original pentalogy of Planet of the Apes films. They form a story arc which may ultimately tie-in with other versions of the Planet of the Apes story (see further below). The sources in chronological order are:
- Planet of the Apes: Caesar’s Story
- Planet of the Apes: When worlds collide- Mountain
- For the purposes of this fandom wikia project the letters CE (referring to Chernin Entertainment) are used as shorthand to denote this series of Apes films and publications.
- Please note that if a character shares a name with another character in the project, or appears in another media source but doesn't appear in the films, that character will have the partial title of that source in its page title and will be listed in the 'CE' category.
Relation to other Planet of the Apes continuities
While there are plenty of names and some dialogue borrowed from the original Planet of the Apes pentalogy, the question of whether or not Rise of the Planet of the Apes and its sequels tie directly into those films has not been definitively answered. The most direct connection to the classic films is a reference to a ship named Icarus being "lost in space". Certainly there is no connection at all to Tim Burton’s 're-imagined' Planet of the Apes (The Chronicles of Ashlar).
Writers Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa claimed to have used Cornelius’ ape history lesson from Escape from the Planet of the Apes as a starting point for their script for Rise, and "worked forwards and backwards" around that concept. That 'history' named Aldo as the first talking ape, but in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, a different version of events was shown, with a much earlier ape revolution led by Cornelius’ and Zira’s son Caesar. The writers opted to re-use his name for their main character, "because Caesar was the ape that led the apes' revolution." However, it is clear that Cornelius’ story about Aldo does not correspond with the events of Conquest, and therefore is either a flawed account or represents an original timeline which was then altered by Caesar. Either way, the story told in Escape was not the story of Caesar, yet the plot of Rise borrows elements of both. Rick Jaffa clarified, "it does explain how the apes took over, but this is a different Caesar we're looking at, it's not the same Caesar. It's a different story of who Caesar is, and how he came to be."
The terminology used to describe the new film took on exaggerated significance in the run-up to the release date, with memories of Burton’s ‘re-imagining’ stirred up once again. At times, the production team emphasised that it was not linked to its predecessors. Jaffa implied that Rise was a new film in its own right: "When reports of the script and the project got out, it started being labelled a reboot and a prequel, and then a remake of 'Conquest' and stuff. That was all surprising to us, because we never really thought of it that way. It was more just, 'wouldn’t it be cool to reimagine what could get us here?'." "It's really kind of hard to put a label on it. We are hopefully rebooting it... its kind of tough to put a specific word to it." Producer Dylan Clark opined in May 2010, "It’s definitely not a remake and it’s definitely not a prequel. I don’t know. I think Burton called his a 're-imagining'. I don’t like that word either." Director Rupert Wyatt agreed, "It’s not a continuation of the other films; it’s an original story... It’s a total re-imagining with regards to certain characters, certain story points and the facts of the original films." "We are looking to create the origin story and actually recreate the mythology, I suppose, and start it again."
On the other hand, in November 2008, Fox Chairman Tom Rothman described the planned movie as "a kind of prequel story before the first story." And Wyatt somewhat contradicted himself, saying "We had to ask ourselves, do we want to, for example, mention Icarus, because does that therefore mean we're referencing a film that actually we're saying doesn't exist? In the original POTA the Icarus mission happened in 1972, and we're saying it happened between 2010 and 2016. But yeah, we're definitely using that as a backdrop." In another interview he went further: "In this film, we see television footage of the 'Icarus' taking off from Earth, so that's a clear reference to the 1968 film because that's the ship Charlton Heston and his crew were on... This is primarily a prequel to the 1968 film." He added, "We've gone a very different route that's restarting the myth, with the hope this will be the first film [of a series] that takes us 2,000 years to reach the original 'Planet of the Apes'." Rick Jaffa also conceded that there was still the option of a link to the first film, saying that the concept behind Rise was "if the right dominoes were to line up, touch each other, it could lead to apes taking over the planet and, perhaps, getting Colonel Taylor on that beach in thirty-nine hundred years." "The thing about the Icarus is that it’s a big nod to the past and for the fans. Quite frankly, it opens up great possibilities for coming back in time into what, hopefully, we’ve set up - to bring back some of the other ape narratives and mythologies… We were really aware of a lot of small details that the original had, that maybe we could explain or set that up, so that maybe the fans could go, 'Oh my god, I see what they’re doing. They’re setting this up for the future'. But the reality is, ultimately we just had to make it work as a contemporary story."
Ultimately, a connection to the original films wasn't conclusively confirmed or denied in Rise. Potentially, there may be creative ways around the seeming contradictions, like - for example - if the 'Icarus' references prove to relate to the 1972 launch and that, due to their travelling faster than light speed, their disappearance is not discovered until around 2016. Asked in December 2011 how Rise and its sequel might relate to the original movies, Rick Jaffa said they hadn't made any decisions, but that their biggest concerns were that Rise featured a virus instead of the nuclear apocalypse implied in the originals, and that it didn't include any time travel.
Matt Reeves, director of the two sequel films, appeared to rule out a link during his director's commentary for War for the Planet of the Apes, stating: "'Rise' changed the timeline because it was evolution that created the change in the apes in the original, over thousands of years. But that was changed with ALZ-113 in 'Rise', and so our thought was that what we're really talking about is a trajectory. We're going toward what the 'Planet of the Apes' is going to become, even though it's not literally the same timeline."
In which years is this continuity set?
The dating of the film series is difficult to pinpoint due to contradictory publicity information surrounding Rise. There was some further confusion over the setting of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but the official 20th Century Fox/Chernin Entertainment website for that movie approached a consensus by stating "TIME SINCE HUMAN AND APE CONTACT: 10 YEARS. CURRENT YEAR: 2026." This would retrospectively place the events of Rise in 2008 (Caesar's birth) and 2016 (the Ape Rebellion), and the events of Dawn in 2026. This would constitute an alternative timeline both to contemporary Earth and to the timeline shown in Escape from the Planet of the Apes/Conquest of the Planet of the Apes/Battle for the Planet of the Apes, which were set between 1991 and about 2020.
- The script outline first developed by writers Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa in 2006 simply placed the main part of Rise in a non-specific contemporary setting: "going on in our world today". The first official announcement of the movie, by Fox Chairman Tom Rothman in November 2008, anticipated production starting the following year, and he specified "an entirely contemporary setting - Earth 2009". When a much-delayed script was written by Silver & Jaffa in January 2010, it adjusted the setting accordingly, noting Bright Eyes's treatment at Gen-Sys Laboratories as beginning on "Tuesday, March 10, 2011", with Caesar's birth happening six week later (approx. 21 April, 2011). Seven years in Caesar's life (according to that script) would thus place the ape rebellion around 2018.
- Further production issues postponed the theatrical release of the film until August 2011. The completed movie removed any overt references to the exact year of the rebellion, leaving it open to the interpretation of the viewer. The film does, however, span the course of eight years, as evidenced by the captions "Three Years Later" and "Five Years Later", but does not give the starting point.
- During Will Rodman's presentation at the beginning of the film, a "Return of Investment (ROI) 10-Year Projection Graph" displays years, the last one being 2011. Based on this, the eight-year span would thus place the ape rebellion in 2019.
- Charles Rodman's certificate of appreciation from the San Francisco Board of Education is dated May 22, 2005. Therefore, Caesar's rebellion could be set no earlier than 2013.
- The newspaper detailing the disappearance of the astronauts appears to have the date Monday, July 18, 2016.
- Rupert Wyatt stated in an interview with Empire Magazine, "In the original POTA the Icarus mission happened in 1972, and we're saying it happened between 2010 and 2016".
- During the Golden Gate Bridge sequence, Caesar is next to a car with a license plate with the year 2016 when the police officers on horse-back arrive.
- It was reported that a calendar in the kitchen of Will Rodman's house displayed "August 2016".
- When the Simian Flu website was launched a year prior to the release of Dawn, it said that the outbreak took place in 2013. Adding ten years would set Dawn in 2023. This was subsequently altered to 2011, perhaps to correlate with the release date of Rise.
- The Motherboard shorts Before the Dawn also used 2011 as the outbreak year, which would place Dawn in 2021.
- In the Dawn novelisation, Dreyfus looks at a photo of his family which is noted as having been taken in the year 2012 in the early days of the Simian Flu. Adding ten years would place Dawn in about 2021.
- The car used by Malcolm's group in Dawn has a 2013 sticker on the license plate.
- The recap paragraphs at the opening scene of War stated that the events at the end of Rise had happened fifteen years ago. However, this is an error as director Matt Reeves stated in an interview that War was set two years after Dawn, which would reduce that gap to twelve years, and places it thousands of years before the original Planet of the Apes timeline.
- The Great Escape, by Dan Jolin - Empire Magazine (August 2011)
- Sci Fi Magazine (August 2011)
- Rise of the Planet of the Apes Q & A Podcast - The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith (December 13, 2011)
- War for the Planet of the Apes blu-ray edition
- Collider visits the set of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, by Germain Lussier - Collider (April 14, 2011)