Reshoots Changed the Original 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Ending

October 3, 2011
Source: THR

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Usually when a high profile, tentpole film that has completed shooting decides that reshoots are needed late in the game, that doesn't bode well for the production. However, when you hear about a drastic change in the ending to Rupert Wyatt's surprisingly fantastic summer prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the skepticism and worry about reshoots might not be so prevalent in the future. THR has an interesting story about how James Franco's character Will Rodman, the scientist who raised and eventually abandoned Caesar, originally had an entirely different fate before reshoots changed the ending a month before release.

At a panel discussion during the Visual Effects Society Production Summit in Beverly Hills, Fox's president of post-production Ted Gagliano said that over the Fourth of July weekend this summer, James Franco flew from North Carolina to California to shoot the alternative goodbye to Caesar (Andy Serkis was on set, too) that ended up in the final cut of the film. The crew shot for three hours and Franco was back on a plane back to North Carolina and the film opened one month later. If you want to see how the original ending played out, The Playlist has a page from an early draft of the script where Will is killed at the end of the battle.

It's quite a drastic change considering the ending of the film leaves such an impression as audiences leave the theaters. Gagliano's talk about the decision comes down to business sense in that Fox wanted to keep their human star of the film alive for potential sequels (obviously), and also, now they have a completely different alternate ending they can use to help sell the Blu-Ray and DVD. Again, no surprise. Honestly, I like the moment that Will and Caesar share before the very last shot of the film, and it would've been a little too brutal for his character to be killed in the end, especially the way described in the original script.

For me, this helps quell the usual fear that comes from news that reshoots are always occurring on high profile projects. Usually extensive reshoots are worrisome, but in the end, the extra work could result in a better film. In the case of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, aside from the practical decision to change the ending, I think it actually works better on a number of levels. It shows that Casear really is in control of his ape army, and it allows for a more tender and less dark ending. If Will had been killed just before the final moments, I don't think I would've left the theater feeling as satisfied with the film. What do you think?

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Reader Feedback - 10 Comments


I liked the ending. I was half expecting it to be 'Draco Malfoy was a d*ck to me while I was in the monkey sanctuary, so I'm going to wipe out humanity as revenge' and I was pleasantly surprised when it wasn't that. You're right, I don't think I'd have enjoyed it as much if Franco's character had been killed.

John Madden on Oct 3, 2011


I actually liked the way it ended and am glad they chose that over Will's death.  Would of worked with Will dying, I really don't think so because it would have been some cheap ploy to get some tears.  I guess Warner Brothers saw how successful late reshoots can be since X-Men First Class did relatively well at the box office.  Part of what worked for both movies is that they did not feel like the prequels we are accustomed to, but rather a new story that would lead up at what could happen.

Michael Lee on Oct 3, 2011


they kept it quiet BECAUSE it usually means problems when reshoots have to be done.

Visereth Doden on Oct 3, 2011


I completely agree.  I actually thought they were going to take over the entire world by the ending.  The ending showed me the "human" side of Caesar as he forgave Will for abandoning him.  The ending also highlights their bond.  This news makes me wish Will Smith's I Am Legend used the alternate ending in theaters.

MarcA on Oct 3, 2011


I liked the ending... up to the point that Caesartalks... monkeys don't talk for the same reason young baby's dont as well.. Their vocal chords wont let them... they aren't meant to... (Super intelligent monkeys is OK, talking super intelligent monkeys is taking it too far lol...)

Ricardo Marques on Oct 4, 2011


Do you realize that this was a prequel to the Planet of the Apes franchise where the monkeys spoke?

peloquin on Oct 4, 2011


prequel/reboot so there was room to make changes, but hey, if ye wanna rationalize the talking then... side-effects. It may be like in the fantasy genre where you can explain everything away by saying a wizard did it, but the virus did have some unforgettable side-effects for people. That reminds me, when I was watching the movie at first I couldn't get over Franco playing the scientist. He seemed too young to have created a cure for Alzheimer's, but then again he didn't do A VERY GOOD JOB AT IT. side-effects may include genocide 

Richie G on Oct 4, 2011


Holy Hell! Was that script segment for real? The jumping infront of a bullet and then tragedy of Caeser realizing Will wasn't his enemy when it was too late... WOW. I mean thats real amateur hour

Richie G on Oct 4, 2011


Following the original script is always better because it's a creative proces and a vision of the writers. Choosing for money is killing every creative proces and no great artist will bend for it. I don't care for sequels or prequels. The best movies have no follow ups. Interception, taxidriver, heat, fightclub, scarface, once upon a time in the west, saving private ryan and etc

Avi on Oct 4, 2011


I am torn on the original ending; however, I have a feeling that John Lithgow will get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the film.  

BuffEQ on Oct 4, 2011

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