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Good news just dropped for Planet of the Apes fans

Get ready for a return to a familiar Planet.

Wes Ball, the director behind the Maze Runner series of films, has been tapped to spearhead a new Planet of the Apes picture for Disney. It's the first legacy Fox title to have a film put into production since the acquisition of the film and television assets of Fox Studios by Disney earlier this year. (via The Hollywood Reporter)

It's an interesting choice, although not an altogether surprising one. The series launched in 1968 with the original Planet of the Apes, an iconic piece of sci-fi filmmaking which posited a world run by intelligent apes, one in which humans were seen as dirty beasts. The film spawned no fewer than four sequels: Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), and Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973). A short-lived television series followed in 1974, after which the series was thought to be pretty much out of gas.

Unfortunately, the first attempt at a reboot lent credence to the notion. 2001's Planet of the Apes, directed by Tim Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, and Tim Roth, was technically light years ahead of its '60s and '70s predecessors — but despite a respectable $362 million dollar worldwide take at the box office, the success of the picture wasn't considered significant enough to merit a follow-up.

The moviegoing public generally responded with bafflement, then, when Rise of the Planet of the Apes — a reboot focusing on just how the Earth came to be ruled by super-smart primates — was announced in 2010. Nobody would have been shocked had the picture crashed and burned at the box office, but upon its release in 2011, there came a shocking development: the movie was good. Very good. Good enough, in fact, to draw glowing reviews and rake in nearly half a billion dollars globally, thanks in large part to soulful, committed performances by James Franco as Will Rodman, a biochemist who creates an intelligence-enhancing drug, and mo-cap king Andy Serkis as the ape Caesar, the unwitting beneficiary of his invention.

Suddenly, Planet of the Apes was a viable property again, and Fox capitalized. The 2014 sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes scored even better reviews and clocked a staggering $710 million dollars at the worldwide box office; 2017's trilogy capper, War for the Planet of the Apes, posted number more in line with Rise, which were still nothing to sneeze at.

With the three films combining for over $1.5 billion box office bucks, then, the question wasn't whether Disney would do anything with the property, but when we could expect the House of Mouse to get the franchise back up and running. As it turns out, the answer was "even sooner than we thought."

Will the new Planet of the Apes be a reboot?

We know what you may be thinking: with the dust barely having settled on the Rise/Dawn/War trilogy, is Disney really going to give Planet of the Apes the full reboot treatment?  Well, since Disney hasn't yet spilled the beans as to whether this will be the case, we're not sure. We can speculate, though, as we are wont to do.

Ball, whose Maze Runner pictures themselves combined for over a billion dollars globally, had previously been slated to direct the animated adaptation of the comic book series Mouse Guard while it was in development at Fox. During this time, a familiar name was attached as a producer on that project: Matt Reeves, who directed the last two Apes pictures.

Once Disney acquired Fox, ol' Mickey (who apparently didn't like the idea of being guarded) shelved Mouse Guard, and Reeves jumped ship to Warner Bros. and DC Films to direct The Batman. Interestingly enough, appearing in that film as Alfred Pennyworth will be... none other than Andy Serkis, whose performance as Caesar anchored all three of the Apes movies.

It stands to reason that Ball and Reeves may have maintained their working relationship after the disbanding of the Mouse Guard, but as of now, there is no word on whether Reeves will be involved in the new Apes picture in any capacity. Since he is hard at work on The Batman, an extremely high-profile reboot of one of the most valuable properties in existence, we're going to go ahead and guess that he is not. As for Serkis, his return to the Apes franchise is also highly unlikely, given that (spoiler) Caesar died at the end of War for the Planet of the Apes.

All of this, obviously, suggests that the new Apes movie is probably not a sequel to War. It's our guess that the new flick will indeed be a reboot, which — depending on how quickly production ramps up — would likely hand it the dubious title of "Most Quickly Rebooted Property." Said title is currently shared by 2008's The Incredible Hulk (which followed 2003's Hulk) and 2012's The Amazing Spider-Man (which came on the heels of 2007's Spider-Man 3). Of course, everyone loves those movies, so what could go wrong?

We poke fun, but in all seriousness, Ball has a tough act to follow. Here's wishing him luck, and as always, we'll be here to report additional details on the latest iteration of Planet of the Apes as they become available.