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
Produced by
Written by
  • Rick Jaffa
  • Amanda Silver
Based onPremise suggested by Planet of the Apes
by Pierre Boulle
Music byPatrick Doyle
CinematographyAndrew Lesnie
Edited by
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[5][2]
Box office$481.8 million[2]

Rise of the Planet of the Apes is a 2011 American science fiction film directed by Rupert Wyatt and starring James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tom Felton, David Oyelowo, and Andy Serkis. Written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, it is 20th Century Fox's reboot of the Planet of the Apes series, intended to act as an origin story for a new series of films.[6] Its premise is similar to the fourth film in the original series, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), but it is not a direct remake of that film. In the film, a substance designed to help the brain repair itself gives advanced intelligence to a chimpanzee named Caesar, who leads an ape uprising.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released on August 5, 2011, to critical and commercial success. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. It was also nominated for five Saturn Awards including Best Director for Wyatt and Best Writing for Jaffa and Silver, winning Best Science Fiction Film, Best Supporting Actor for Serkis and Best Special Effects. Serkis's performance as Caesar was widely acclaimed, earning him many nominations from associations which do not usually recognize performance capture as traditional acting.

A sequel to the film, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, was released on July 11, 2014 and a third film, War for the Planet of the Apes, was released on July 14, 2017.


Will Rodman, a scientist at the San Francisco biotech company Gen-Sys, is testing the viral-based drug ALZ-112 on chimpanzees to find a cure for Alzheimer's disease. ALZ-112 is given to a chimp 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 chimps slaughtered. However, Will's assistant Robert Franklin discovers that the reason for Bright Eyes' rampage was that she had recently given birth to an infant chimp. Will reluctantly agrees to take in the chimp, who is named Caesar. Will learns that Caesar has inherited his mother's intelligence, through being exposed to ALZ-112 in her womb, and decides to raise him. Three years later, Will introduces Caesar to the redwood forest at Muir Woods National Monument. Meanwhile, Will treats his dementia-suffering father Charles with ALZ-112, which seems to restore his cognitive ability.

Five years later, when Caesar reaches adolescence and sees a dog on a leash like his own, he questions his identity and learns of his origins from Will. Meanwhile, Charles' condition returns as he becomes resistant to ALZ-112. Caesar injures an aggressive neighbor, Douglas Hunsiker, while defending a confused Charles from him. As a result, he is placed in a primate shelter where he is tormented by a chimp named Rocket and the chief guard, Dodge Landon, but also where he befriends an orangutan named Maurice, who came from a circus. Caesar learns how to unlock his cage, gaining free access to the common area. With the assistance of a gorilla named Buck, he confronts the sanctuary's alpha, Rocket and claims that position. Meanwhile, Jacobs clears the development of a more powerful, gaseous version of the drug – ALZ-113 – when Will tells him it can also improve intelligence. Will takes the drug home to try to save his father, but Charles declines further treatment and dies overnight.

After attempting to test the drug on a scarred bonobo test subject named 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 the chimp refuses to go home with him so he could look after the other apes. Instead, he escapes from the facility and returns to Will's house, where he takes canisters of the ALZ-113. Upon returning, Caesar releases the gas and allows it to enhance the intelligence of the other apes. When Dodge attempts to get him back into his cage, Caesar speaks for the first time, shouting "No!" and gets in a fight 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 free more apes from the San Francisco Zoo on the way.

A battle ensues as the ape army fights their way past a police blockade on the Golden Gate Bridge to escape into the redwood forest. Buck sacrifices himself to save Caesar by jumping into the helicopter in which Jacobs is riding: Koba pushes Jacobs into the Golden Gate strait to his death after the crash. 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 and begs him to return home. In response, Caesar hugs him and says, "Caesar is home". Will, realizing that this is indeed their last goodbye, respects Caesar's wishes. The apes embrace their new lifestyle in the forest.

In a mid-credits scene, Hunsiker leaves his house for work as an airline pilot, arriving at San Francisco International Airport for his flight to Paris. It is revealed that he's infected with ALZ-113 as his nose begins to drip blood onto the floor. A graphic traces the spread of the virus around the globe via international flight routes.



  • James Franco as Dr. William "Will" Rodman, a biologist who is trying to discover a cure for his father's Alzheimer's disease by testing ALZ-112 on chimps; he is a father figure to Caesar. James Franco was cast after talks with Tobey Maguire broke down.[7][8]
  • 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 Alzheimer's-afflicted father and a former music teacher who improves after Will gives him the ALZ-112 and forms a grandfatherly bond with Caesar.
  • Brian Cox as John Landon, manager of the San Bruno Primate Shelter where Caesar is confined for a time.
  • Tom Felton as Dodge Landon, John's son and an animal caretaker at the shelter, who abuses the apes for sport. His first and last name are references to two of the astronauts in the original Planet of the Apes.
  • David Oyelowo as Steven Jacobs, Will's arrogant boss.
  • Tyler Labine as Robert Franklin, a chimp handler at Gen-Sys and one of Will's friends.
  • Jamie Harris as Rodney, a caretaker and a nightwatchman who is much kinder to the apes at the sanctuary and is regularly mocked by Dodge for this.
  • David Hewlett as Hunsiker, Will's hot-headed neighbor.
  • Chelah Horsdal as Irena, a nurse who is looking after Charles.


  • 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 for eight years. Caesar is based on Roddy McDowall's character in the last two films of the original Apes series.
  • Karin Konoval as Maurice, a wise and benevolent Bornean orangutan who was retired from a circus and knows sign language; he becomes Caesar's closest ally. Konoval also cameos as the court clerk whom Will briefly argues with about his appeal. His name is a reference to Maurice Evans who portrays Dr. Zaius in the first two films of the original series.[9]
  • Terry Notary as Rocket, the dominant chimpanzee at the ape sanctuary, until Caesar overthrows him. Notary also plays Bright Eyes, Caesar's mother, who was captured in Africa.
  • Richard Ridings as Buck, a western lowland gorilla who pledges his allegiance to Caesar after he is freed by him.
  • Devyn Dalton as Cornelia, a female chimpanzee in the ape sanctuary.
  • Jay Caputo as Alpha, the dominant male chimpanzee of Bright Eyes' troop and Caesar's father.
  • Christopher Gordon as Koba, a scarred and aggressive bonobo who has spent most of his life in laboratories and holds a grudge against humans.


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][9]

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."[6] 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."[13] Mark Bomback did an uncredited rewrite of the script.[14]


Filming began in July 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia.[15] Filming also happened in San Francisco, California (the primary setting of the film),[15] and around Oahu, Hawaii, which doubled for the African jungle as the schedule and budget did not allow for location shooting in Africa.[16]

Visual effects[edit]

As the apes in Rise were meant to be actual, 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.[17] 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.[18][19] The main breakthrough was a camera that enabled viewing the motion capture dots in daylight, employed mostly for the Golden Gate Bridge battle. 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.[20]

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.[17][21] 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.[22]


The score for the film was written by Patrick Doyle and performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony conducted by James Shearman.[23] 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.[24]


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.[25] 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.[26] The film held on to the #1 spot in its second weekend, dropping 49.2%, and grossing $27,832,307.[27] 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.[28]

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 a 82% approval rating based on 267 reviews, with an average rating of 7.12/10. 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."[29] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 68 out of 100 based on 39 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[30] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[31]

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."[32] 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.[33] 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."[34] 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.[35] 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.[36]

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".[37]

Home media[edit]

Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and Digital copy on December 13, 2011.[38]


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[39] Best Supporting Actor Andy Serkis Nominated
Annie Awards[40] Character Animation in a Live Action Production Eric Reynolds Won
Broadcast Film Critics Association[41] Best Supporting Actor Andy Serkis Nominated
Best Visual Effects Won
Best Action Film Nominated
Empire Awards[42] 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[43] Best Supporting Actor Andy Serkis Nominated
Technical Achievement Won
IGN Best of 2011[44] 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[45]
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[46] 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[47] Best Supporting Actor Andy Serkis Nominated
Satellite Awards[48] Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture Andy Serkis Nominated
Best Visual Effects Jeff Capogreco, Joe Letteri, R. Christopher White Nominated
Saturn Awards[49] 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[50] 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[51] 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."[52] 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."[6]

On May 31, 2012, 20th Century Fox announced that the sequel would be named Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.[53] 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;[54] he was replaced by Cloverfield director Matt Reeves.[55] Jaffa and Silver returned as producers and to pen the screenplay, with rewrites from Scott Z. Burns[56] and Mark Bomback.[14]

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.[57] James Franco returned as Will Rodman in a "cameo via video".[58] 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.[59][60] In January 2015, Fox delayed the release to July 14, 2017.[61][62] On May 14, 2015, the title was given as War of the Planet of the Apes,[63] later re-titled to War for the Planet of the Apes.

In December 3, 2019, it was reported that Wes Ball is currently set to direct an untitled Planet of the Apes film.[64] 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.[64]

See also[edit]


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  3. ^ "LUMIERE: Rise of the Planet of the Apes". Lumiere. Archived from the original on June 24, 2018. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
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External links[edit]