Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Franco's Rise Fall

When I first heard that actor James Franco had been cast as the human lead in last summer's Rise of the Planet of the Apes, filling what was essentially the Ricardo Montalban role from the original Apes series' analogue, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, I was under the impression that Franco, like Montalban before him, would bite the big one before the credits rolled. This is something that was confirmed for me when I tracked down a copy of the shooting script.

However, by the time the movie actually hit theaters, the filmmakers and/or studio clearly had a change of heart, and Franco's Will Rodman bid his hirsute "son" Caesar an emotional goodbye, but still lived to see the credits (though if he made it past said credits is another question entirely, and if you've seen the movie you know what I'm talking about). I always felt like there was a story behind this change, and now we have it, thanks to Fox post-production prexy Ted Gagliano, who tells The Hollywood Reporter...
...the filmmakers originally thought James Franco’s character should die, then changed that decision. He said Franco flew from North Carolina to California over July 4th weekend to shoot an alternative goodbye with the ape Caesar (Andy Serkis).
Picking up that thread, Devin Faraci, one of the first people to break the story on Rise back when it was called Caesar, summarizes the pre-change coda thusly:
The original ending had Franco’s character being shot to death by armed humans who have chased the apes into the forest. The ape horde descends on the people and tears them to pieces, a reversal of the opening scene where Bright Eyes is captured in the jungle.
That's in the draft that I read, which goes on to depict in a far more explicit fashion how mankind's downfall is well and truly in progress. I have to say, for as much as I liked the movie we got, I would have liked the darker ending slightly more. Not just because that's where my filmic tastes tend to gravitate, but also because it's more of a piece with the rest of the Apes series. Regardless, I got to quiz Rise writer/producers Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver about this very point when I chatted with them in August, and they offered a pretty good insight into how and why their creative process led them where it did.

1 comment:

Abdul-Halim V. said...

Wow, I definitely would have liked that ending better.