I visited Fox a month before the film was due for its worldwide release and though a number of visually impressive teasers had been glimpsed there was an understandable tension in the air. Fox chairman Tom Rothman was very keen to play up their new film and openly admitted that it was a chalice, while not poisoned, which was tarnished with Tim Burton’s lifeless reboot. I asked him if a sequel was already in the works to which he replied along the lines of ‘if the numbers add up’.
Now we all know that the numbers added up just fine and a second prequel/sequel to a prequel is on its way with man behind the mo-cap, Andy Serkis, and the man behind the camera, director Rupert Wyatt, both set to return to the newly diseased world. The news today from THR that Burns is lining up to write the sequel is not as unexpected as it might seem. Burns was at one point set to follow up his work with Steven Soderbergh on Contagion by directing a film called The Side Effects, now renamed The Bitter Pill, which he also wrote. With Soderbergh taking the reins on that film Burns’ schedule opened up and he’s filled it with this.
The co-writers of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, were working on the follow up and delivered a draft. There’s no word on how much work Burns will have to do on this script, however if you were to line up the characterisation of ROTPOTA and Contagion, as an example, there’s a clear difference in the tone and solidity present in each film. If you want to find out more about Jaffa and Silver’s journey to get Fox to take on another Apes film you should listen to Jeff Goldsmith’s Q&A podcast with the pair.