One of the prize franchises in the Fox catalogue is getting dusted off by Disney.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Fox, now owned by Disney, has hired Maze Runner director Wes Ball to develop and direct a new Planet of the Apes movie. This comes several months after Disney hinted the franchise was part of its plans at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.
io9 has contacted Disney for comment and will update if and when we hear.
According to the report, it’s unclear if Ball’s take is meant to reboot the franchise, which began with 1968's Planet of the Apes, or if it will continue the recent track of prequels, which culminated in 2017's War for the Planet of the Apes.
Ball is best known for directing the underrated Maze Runner trilogy that concluded with last year’s The Death Cure. Since then, he had been working on an adaptation of the comic series Mouse Guard, but that project got shelved during Disney’s acquisition of Fox.
The recent Apes prequels did leave room for the franchise to continue—and director Matt Reeves, who made 2014's Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 2017's War for the Planet of the Apes, has said as much. “In our minds the story’s not over,” Reeves told Gizmodo in 2017. “The story definitely continues, but that aspect of seeing this epic arc was really what we wanted to complete.”
The arc he’s referring too, which follows the ape leader Caesar, still leaves many, many years between itself and the events of the original film. That, of course, saw an astronaut, played by Charlton Heston, happen upon a planet populated by intelligent apes that ends up being Earth. So Ball could continue to show how Earth evolved into a planet of talking apes, or fast forward and give us the story from a human perspective, like that original film and the (not great) 2001 Tim Burton remake. Time will tell.
The filmmaking techniques used to bring human-like apes to life have changed considerably since the original Planet of the Apes. Makeup still comes into play, but instead of putting bulky prosthetics on an actor, visual effects technicians cover their faces in tiny white tracking dots, allowing their performances to be translated to a digital creature.