Fox hasn’t had a great history when it comes to handling (what can lovingly be referred to as) geek properties. Beyond the first two X-Men films they’ve appeared lost when it comes to making movies that are true to the source material from which they are working. Because of this most Fox produced comic and sci-fi movie announcements are met with a hesitant “well the concept sounds cool but I’m reserving enthusiasm.” Then this last summer came and X-Men: First Class and Rise of the Planet of the Apes blew many a nerd and film critic’s mind and suddenly we were excited about what Fox was doing and hoping they would bring us more.
And then nothing.
No script announcements, production schedules, or even a whisper of an intention to continue with these films. Even Green Lantern got an announcement that DC/Warner Bros. wanted to make a sequel, and while that was more than likely simple posturing to get people into theaters it did make people wonder why Fox was dragging their feet on continuing the stories from movies that were actually good.
Then yesterday we got two announcements (one official, one more rumor-ish) that Fox was committing themselves financially to making sequels for both First Class and Planet of the Apes.
According to Super Hero Hype (via Badass Digest) Simon Kinberg (producer on X-Men: First Class and writer on X-Men: The Last Stand) has been hired to write the script for a sequel to First Class. This is only really news in that it’s a sign that Fox is considering moving ahead and letting First Class be the new continuity that they work from. Hopefully they do more to separate themselves from the original films and let these new ones exist on their own. For now I’m reserving excitement. Matthew Vaughn and Michael Fassbender made First Class what it was, so until its announced that they are officially attached we can’t be sure of what we’re getting. If Vaughn does come around for the sequel then whoever wrote the original draft of the film is of little interest (no offense to Mr. Kinberg personally who has been a part of some fun movies) because he is a big fan of page one rewrites.
Hiring a writer is the lightest of financial commitments in the movie world, but signing an actor to a seven figure deal to return for a sequel is substantial. That’s exactly what Fox has done (according to Deadline) to get Andy Serkis committed to play Caesar in the sequel to Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Director Rupert Wyatt and writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver were locked in for multiple pictures, Serkis was the key element who needed to be wooed to return and its sounds like they did it. There is no announcement about James Franco or Freida Pinto, but who really cares? Serkis was Rise of the Planet of the Apes*, he’s the one actor who needs to return.
Much of the groaning about sequels, prequel, and reboots is entirely justified (and I’ve done my fair share of it) but Rise of the Planet of the Apes is one of those films that I truly want more of. I want to see how they take us from Rise to Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (which I imagine is where they are taking us next). What will the dramatic elements be? What challenges and hardships will Caesar have to face? With no word on a script, much less a production schedule or release date, it could be a while until those questions are answered. But at least there is hope that it will happen eventually.
Until then X-Men: First Class is on blu-ray now and Rise of the Planet of the Apes will be out December 13 (my birthday if you’re looking to get me a gift…).
*Fox is also going to be campaigning for Serkis in this year’s Oscar race which is pretty cool.