Wes Ball will direct and develop the next era of the franchise.

By Nick Romano
December 03, 2019 at 04:34 PM EST

Hollywood is officially heading back to the Planet of the Apes.

A new era for the franchise begins as Wes Ball, the filmmaker behind the Maze Runner movies, has been tapped to develop and direct a new Apes movie, EW has learned. It’s not entirely clear at this point whether it’s a fresh reboot of the franchise or an extension of the films that featured Andy Serkis’ motion-captured performance as the ape Caesar.

Twentieth Century Fox

Ball helmed 2014’s The Maze Runner, starring Dylan O’Brien, as well as its sequels, The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. He was next in development on Mouse Guard, which would’ve used motion-capture performances from actors Serkis, Idris Elba, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster. But when Disney acquired most of Fox’s film and TV assets, Mouse Guard was one of the projects that got shelved. Ball’s relationship with the studio, however, survives.

Ball monkeyed around on social media when he posted a comical set photo from one of the original Planet of the Apes movies as the news broke Tuesday.

Planet of the Apes is one of the first big Fox franchises to be redeveloped following the Disney deal. A sequel to Avatar — with many more sequels in the works — recently marked its last day of filming in 2019.

Based on the 1963 novel by author Pierre Boulle, the first Planet of the Apes film debuted in 1968 and saw an astronaut believing himself to have landed on a planet where a civilization of highly intelligent apes ruled and humans were treated as priminitive animals. Then came the harsh realization that it wasn’t a different planet, but really Earth, which went through a nuclear war. That movie spawned sequels and a TV show, and by 2001, director Tim Burton premiered a remake starring Mark Wahlberg.

2011 marked the beginning of a trilogy of prequel films that began with Rupert Wyatt’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes and continued with 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and 2017’s War for the Planet of the Apes. All starred Serkis as Caesar, leader of the ape civilization. Matt Reeves directed the final two films, and now he’s helming The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.

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