'Planet of the Apes' franchise trivia - East Valley Tribune: Get Out

'Planet of the Apes' franchise trivia

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Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2011 3:24 pm | Updated: 12:35 am, Mon Aug 22, 2011.

Ah, the good old days before spoilers.

If "Planet of the Apes" were released today, how much time would it take before everyone knew the secret about the mysterious planet where astronaut George Taylor (Charlton Heston) lands in the year 3987? It would be the secret heard 'round the world, thanks to the click of a mouse.

In honor of "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," opening in theaters Friday, some tidbits about the franchise:

1. What a launch pad

The 1968 original spawned four sequels -- "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" in 1970, "Escape From Planet of the Apes" in 1971, "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes" in 1972 and "Battle for the Planet of the Apes" in 1973 -- along with two reboots and a pair of TV shows.

2. You said it

When the American Film Institute compiled its list of 100 top movie lines, one from "Planet of the Apes" came in at No. 66.

Sandwiched between "Elementary, my dear Watson" and the "Casablanca" lament that starts with "Of all the gin joints in all the towns ..." was the line delivered by Heston's character: "Get your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape."

3. No worries

Fox production boss Richard Zanuck worried that moviegoers might laugh or hoot the moment an ape spoke in perfect English in the original. "The first ape came out of the corn field, said something, and the audience was enraptured by it, accepted it," he recalled in 2001 while promoting Tim Burton's version of "Planet."

4. Faces, furry and otherwise

Heston started off as the face of the franchise, but he ultimately shared or ceded that honor to Roddy McDowall, who played simians on screens big and small. He even did double duty as peaceful chimpanzee scientist Cornelius and, later, Cornelius' son, Caesar.

The late Kim Hunter also was forever tied to her role of compassionate, rational Dr. Zira. She said of the latex makeup that took four hours to apply: "It was pretty claustrophobic and painful to a certain extent. The only thing of me that came through were my eyeballs."

5. Kill me now

When Zanuck pitched the 1970 sequel, Heston told him, "This is the worst idea. Why are you doing this? We made a wonderful picture, why muck it up?" The actor agreed to appear but only if his character was killed, and producers granted his wish.

In "Beneath the Planet of the Apes," another astronaut (James Franciscus) crashes through the time barrier searching for Heston's missing astronaut. That leads to a subterranean city where mutants worship a weapon capable of destroying the planet.

Heston belatedly rejoined the franchise in 2001 as the graying, age-spotted father of Thade (Tim Roth) in Burton's version. His switch from human to ape was a wink to the audience, and it worked.

6. Name game

In "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," Caesar is the name of a super-intelligent chimp who sees that humans are capable of art and reason along with oppression and bigotry. That was the name of the son of Cornelius and Zira in "Conquest of the Planet of the Apes."

In that film, set in 1991, an outer-space virus has killed cats and dogs, resulting in humans importing apes to serve as household pets and slave labor. Caesar leads the apes in a revolt against their human masters.

7. TV time

CBS's hourlong series, "Planet of the Apes," lasted just 14 episodes from September through December 1974. Two American astronauts, played by Ron Harper and James Naughton, were rocketed 2,000 years into the future when gorillas served as the military class and orangutans the ruling class. McDowall turned up as an inquisitive, friendly chimpanzee named Galen.

NBC aired "Beyond the Planet of the Apes," an animated version of this series, on Saturday mornings from September 1975 to September 1976.

8. Going ape

The five original movies, plus the 2001 remake directed by Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg, grossed nearly $262 million in North America, according to boxofficemojo.com. As you might suspect, the 2001 movie made the most, taking in $68 million its first weekend and topping out at $180 million.

However, when adjusted for inflation, the $32,589,624 from the 1968 original translates to more than $206 million in today's dollars.

9. The last time around

In the 2001 version, Wahlberg played an Air Force pilot on a space station anchored near Saturn. When an electromagnetic storm disrupts operations, he impetuously defies orders and flies into the maelstrom.

He crashes through time and space and lands in the ape society where he finds sympathetic apes (including Helena Bonham Carter) and a maniacal one who hates humans.


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