Warning #2: minor spoilers ahead!
Although the just-about-to-open War for the Planet of the Apes acts very much as a conclusion to what is now the modern Apes trilogy (also consisting of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), the director and co-writer of Dawn and War, Matt Reeves, may not be done with this iconic genre franchise yet.
Speaking with Fandango (via Slashfilm), Reeves acknowledged -- as he has in the past -- that the story laid out in the current trilogy ultimately points toward the future ape civilization encountered by Charlton Heston back in 1968's original Planet of the Apes. But he noted that there is still a lot of ground to cover before anyone should even think about getting into a remake of that film:
“For me the idea of these stories is that they’re leading on a trajectory toward the originals. What I'm interested in, and what I'm excited about, is the journey toward them; because the story no longer is about what happens -- we know what happens -- it becomes Planet of the Apes.The world that’s described in each film is different from the world that we know from the ’68 film, and it becomes an opportunity to explain how we get there, and that becomes an opportunity to hold a mirror up to human nature.”
Reeves hinted that he already has ideas for more films in the saga, and one of those ideas is personified in the new War character Bad Ape (Steve Zahn), who is the first talking simian that Caesar and his clan encounter that is not a member of their tribe. Reeves explained:
“When [co-writer] Mark [Bomback] and I came up with the idea for Bad Ape in War, that was to imply the idea that there would be apes out there in the world that Caesar and his apes knew nothing of, and that they wouldn’t have had the benefit of Caesar’s leadership and the values that he had instilled in his community. Future conflicts in this kind of epic journey [may] take us toward the ’68 movie without necessarily ever getting there [and] could be about conflicts between apes, not just conflicts between humans and apes."
So rather than rush into auditions for a Chuck Heston replacement, Reeves believes that "there are many more exciting stories to be told, and I would love to tell those stories." Those tales may involve other ape tribes or entire civilizations, not just Caesar's people and whatever remains of the human race. Don't forget, in the original timeline there's a long period of time (2,000 years) between the initial ascendance of the apes and Heston's ship (which did take off in these films, according to news reports in Rise) returning to the Earth of the distant future, so there's a lot of space there to fill.
Based on his work with this franchise so far, we'd be quite happy to see Reeves get back behind the wheel -- although he has a little picture called The Batman on his schedule next. But after that, if he's ready to return to our furry friends, I'd be very interested in seeing what that future holds.
War for the Planet of the Apes arrives in theaters on July 14, 2017.