WonderCon 2014: Matt Reeves Brought Dawn of the Planet of the Apes Back from the Future

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

With Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opening this summer, 20th Century Fox brought the cast and filmmakers to WonderCon in Anaheim. They gave a press conference for media before their panel to fans, and director Matt Reeves revealed that the original concept took place even further along in the ape takeover of Earth. He brought it back to where it begins in Dawn.

"When I got involved, they had actually jumped father down the line, closer to Planet of the Apes than I ever wanted to and I thought I was not going to do this movie," Reeves said. "I thought oh, that's what you guys want to do, because I think you should start earlier because there's a long and interesting path that's all about the lives of these people and how they're affected in this situation. The idea would be that the next phase of this story would be how those lives continue in this struggle. It's an ongoing struggle the way that our lives are as well. So it seemed to me that this was a moment where you could actually explore that question, the co-existence between these two populations that were struggling for survival."

Dawn picks up with a group of human characters in a colony of survivors. Keri Russell and Gary Oldman were at WonderCon to represent the humans. "Initially, we don't know that there are apes there because this community has survived the flu, the epidemic which has wiped out a huge part of the world," Oldman said. "We believe that the military have done their job and basically that they've wiped out the apes. We have food, we have water but the currency in the movie I guess for want of a better word is electricity. We need that to communicate to the outside world to actually find out if there is anyone out there or how many are out there, who is out there? So we believe for all intents and purposes we could be the only survivors. Then of course, cut to a community of apes that are all doing our thing with their family and think we've been all wiped out. Then of course we discover each other. The drama is can the apes and the humans coexist."

While the apes are on the rise, humans are on the downfall, Reeves said. "For me the idea was that it's really a story of two families," Reeves said. "There's a human family and there's an ape family and that's what the colony is. That's the human family. The difference is the apes are on the ascendancy. The idea is we start in this ape world and we're following their development. In a way it mirrors our own tribal development and you see as language is coming into being and all of this stuff, and you're seeing all the bonds that have been formed and the next generation that's coming and the civilization they're building, they're really on the way up. The humans, the colony, they have just had the most massive tragedy happen to them and they are a family that's trying to heal itself. So these two families have to find some way to survive and the stakes are all about the things that they care about, and also there's the question for the humans deeply about what it is that they've lost. The idea in this story for the humans is what it took even to still be here, what was lost along the way and what's worth fighting for a his point. All of those questions I think are very emotional questions."

Andy Serkis returns as Caesar, leading the apes. There is a conflict coming, but Reeves said nobody is the bad guy of Dawn. "The thing that was really important to me was that we carry forward the apes in an emotional way that you could relate to," Reeves said. "We take the humans and in a way that was really different from Rise, take those humans and depict them in a way where they weren't villains either. There are no villains in our story. It's all about survival and trying to find the way to master our nature and impulse within us."

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opens July 11.

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