Wes Ball Talks Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Spoilers

Wes Ball Talks Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes Spoilers

You’ve got questions and Wes Ball has answers. His new film, Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, opened this weekend and io9 recently sat down with the director to talk all about it. We’ve covered all the non-spoiler stuff already but below, we dive into the film’s surprising prologue, some big character revelations, the ending, and what might be next. Check it out.

The prologue

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes opens right after the end of War for the Planet of the Apes with the funeral of Caesar. It then jumps ahead hundreds of years which is where the bulk of the story takes place, but seeing fan-favorite characters like Maurice and Rocket back was a surprise. We asked Ball why he chose to start there.

It was the earliest decision for me,” he said. “Actually it was the first thing I ever storyboarded. Early on I put music to it. I cut it together. Before I had a script, I did that. It just felt right. It felt like, ‘Let’s remind people.’ Seven years have passed. Some people don’t even remember he died, Caesar. So it just felt right.”

He continued. “The opening text thing was actually a fairly late addition because [test] audiences were still like ‘Who’s that?’ There were still too many people who just weren’t as fanatical about those previous movies. So that helped us to be like, ‘Okay, okay.’ And then for the real fans that love it: snap, Caesar’s face. I think it’s a great first cut, you know what I mean? Then to watch the moment an ape becomes a legend—becomes a story that’s going to be told through generations, and it’s going to evolve and it’s going to change, that was important to me. And that first frame of the movie, and the last frame of the movie, [are] very similar. To show that spirit spreading and then that great new world, a new day, was key to me. It just felt so right to be like ‘Look, we love those movies, but we are in a new chapter now.’ That was the goal.”

Freya Allan as Mae.

Mae the human

One of the first big reveals in the film is that Mae (played by Freya Allan) can speak. The film’s “Final Trailer” spoiled that, however, and the day we spoke Ball was not happy about it. “Well, it’s been spoiled now but hopefully that remains for some people,” he said. But beyond that, the character has many other secrets—like that she’s part of a larger human group—and we asked Ball about just developing that character.

“That’s kind of the dimension of the movie, I think,” he said. “She’s this little enigma that we get to unwrap over the course of the movie. And we knew we were going to start with an ape story this time. We’re going to start there. And, presumably, fans would remember that the virus basically wiped all humankind out and they lost their ability to speak. ‘Oh, there’s the feral humans that we all know,’ and they see in the trailers ‘Oh they’re all feral humans now. Cool.’ And of course, we meet a feral human and it’s like, perfect.”

“Then we get to do the reverse, you know? But we were going to start with the idea that you thought this was a story about an ape named Noa, but by the end of it, we’re going to realize it’s actually a story about an ape named Noa and a human named Mae. It’s two stories. Two things. And literally a door opens at the end of the movie that shows that there is more to come. There is more behind this character and the relationship that they’ve had, the adventure they’ve had together. The things they’ve learned about each other, for better or worse, is going to be key moving forward. How they’re going to navigate their respective worlds. I think it’s just full of interesting possibilities.”

Wes Ball on set.

Those other humans

So, does Ball know what the other humans are up to? Does it even matter since this is a story about apes?

“We’ve got ideas. We’ve certainly got ideas,” Ball said. “We talk about it while we’re making this thing. We very carefully talked about Noa and Mae as a character. I’m not saying it’s all written but we’ve got some good notions of where [the story] wants to go, and we’ve got a great light at the end of the tunnel, which is the 1968 original. We’ve got this thing that we’re kind of heading towards that kind of gives us some parameters, some loose guidelines where to go. We’ve got plenty of runway to go before that movie, but it’s exciting. The core of these movies is about apes and humans. That dynamic. They stand in for us as humans being able to exist with others that we are different than. That’s what it’s all about.”

More to come?

One of the reasons we didn’t like Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes as much as, for example, Rise of the Planet of the Apes is this one ends promising a new movie. The ending isn’t really an ending as opposed to a pause. So, we asked Ball about that decision.

“It’s an important franchise for the studio,” Ball said. “It’d be naive to think it’s just one. I think we went into it trying to make sure it was a fulfilling one-story. But you’re right. There’s this little epilogue that is, you know—another door opens that hopefully promises a lot that you want to see more of, if we’re lucky enough to make more. That was the idea. It was just like the beginning of the next one, almost, more than the end of this one.”

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is now in theaters.

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