One of the more successful blockbuster releases from this summer was War for the Planet of the Apes, which is the latest instalment in a franchise that will reach its 50th anniversary during 2018. That was when the initial adaptation of the novel was released and in the years since it has proven to be one of the most enduring franchises, even moving successfully into other entertainment platforms.

Original film series

The novel that the Planet of the Apes film from 1968 was based on was French and had the title La Planete des Singes, when it was published five years earlier. That original film starred Charlton Heston and Roddy McDowell and was a huge hit at the time – as well as going on to become an iconic film of its era. There are very few people who are not familiar with the closing scene featuring a destroyed Statue of Liberty, which has been affectionately parodied many times. The box office success of the film led to a string of sequels, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes, during the early 1970s. These lacked the star power and critical acclaim of the original, but proved reasonably successful at the box office – albeit none achieved anything close to the $33,395426 worldwide box office gross of the first film. By the time of the final film in 1973, the sense of diminishing returns was clear, backed up by worldwide box office figures of just $8,800,000, and the franchise disappeared from cinema screens for nearly thirty years.

Other mediums

Perhaps this was partly down to oversaturation as this era also saw a television series launched – with McDowell on board. The show centred on a similar premise to the original film, with humans oppressed by apes in the future, but did not prove a hit with audiences and was cancelled after one series. There was also an animated series – Return to the Planet of the Apes – briefly screened in 1975, but this failed to find an audience. The franchise has made a much more successful move into other entertainment mediums in recent years however, with the launch of spin-offs like the themed Planet of the Apes slot game.

Burton reboot

The franchise was finally revived in 2001 by acclaimed director Tim Burton, following a long period in development, and his Planet of the Apes featured stars like Mark Wahlberg and Helena Bonham-Carter. Burton was criticised by many fans of the original for the changes he made to the story however and the film flopped at the box office.

Current film series

The franchise then lay fallow for another decade until being rebooted as Rise of the Planet of the Apes in 2011, which featured a storyline about humans raising a genetically enhanced chimpanzee. This proved to be the real rebirth of the series and was followed by this summer’s film, which won praise from critics for its thoughtful and adult depiction of war.

Last year saw the announcement that a fourth film in the new series would be made, and the studio might give us more information on that next year, to coincide with the anniversary