The Proposed 1990s PLANET OF THE APES Reboot

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Tom Pheby takes a look at the proposed 1990s reboot of Planet of the Apes.


20th Century Fox first revealed they were looking to reboot the Planet of the Apes saga back in 1988, but it never made it to the screen until Tim Burton's 2001's atrocity. However, his wasn't the first version which Fox had in production, in the early 1990s Oliver Stone became attached to the project as producer. At this point in time it was suggested that Arnold Schwarzenegger was considered for a starring role in what would be known as "Return to the Planet of the Apes". This new re-imagining would be jointly scripted Stone and Terry Hayes, but eventually due to a laughable conflict of ideas the projected was cancelled.

Stone revealed that his version of the story involved cryogenically frozen Apes that possessed secret codes found within the bible which foretold the future of civilization. He revealed:
"It has the discovery of cryogenically frozen Vedic Apes who hold the secret numeric codes to the Bible that foretold the end of civilizations. It deals with past versus the future. My concept is that there's a code inscribed in the Bible that predicts all historical events. The apes were there at the beginning and figured it all out.”
Hayes considered a plot involving a plague which was responsible for nearly killing all mankind, the origins of which could be traced back to the Stone Age. The human lead (Schwarzenegger) would prevent this from happening by traveling back in time and eliminating the threat. Peter Chernin, a Producer at Fox, declared the script to be one of the best he'd ever read.

But then the Head of Production, Dylan Sellars, became involved and strongly suggested alterations to Hayes script, he wanted the movie to include more comedy and light-hearted moments. The impasse was surrounding Sellars insistence that the Apes in "Apeland" should be playing baseball, and that when it is discovered that they were missing a pitcher the time traveling human would assume the role so the game could continue.

Stone and Hayes weren't happy, Stone in particular wanted to make something along the lines of The Terminator but it seemed the studio wanted it to be more like The Flintstones. Sellars continued to push for his baseball scene to be included. So when Hayes delivered the draft script in 1996 (now titled "Return of the Apes" - which you can read here) minus the Apes in baseball caps, Sellars subsequently fired him.

The whole thing is just so typical of the 'wooden heads' in their cushy senior positions within major film studios. All of them wanting to stamp their ridiculous suggestions on to a story, and then throwing their toys out of their prams if their ideas are rejected.

As a result Oliver Stone and everyone involved jumped ship simultaneously, likely before any studio executive had the chance to suggest the Apes should be playing ice hockey! We can joke about it now, but in all honesty "Planet of the Apes on Ice" would've been much more entertaining than the movie Tim Burton eventually served up!

Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter
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