In a scene from Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, the chimpanzee Noa (played by Owen Teague) stands in a fierce posture, facing the camera with a weapon of some kind at ready, held in front of his chest. Behind him to the left is the orangutan Raka (played by Peter Macon); to the right behind him is the female human Nova (played by Freya Allan). They appear to be on a beach, standing near a barrier made of sharpened sticks and nets.

Director Wes Ball Takes Us to His Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes

By the D23 Team

Fans of Planet of the Apes movies are in for an unforgettable journey when 20th Century Studios’ Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes debuts in theaters on Friday, May 10. Director Wes Ball breathes new life into the epic franchise, setting this film several generations after the reign of Caesar, the ape leader whose journey was traced in the hit films Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017).

At the start of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, it’s clear that apes are now the dominant species on the planet, while humans have been reduced to living in the shadows. As a new tyrannical ape leader, Proximus Caesar, builds his empire, a young ape named Noa undertakes a harrowing journey that will cause him to question all that he has known about the past and to make choices that will define a future for apes and humans alike.

Recently, D23 was lucky enough to sit down with Ball and a number of other journalists as the director shared clips of some of the most incredible and imaginative moments from the upcoming movie. When Ball entered the room, everyone could feel his excitement—it was contagious! We were all drawn in, as if watching the opening sequence of one of his films.

“We’re still in that same world” from the previous trilogy, Ball explained. “We’re still in that universe, and we see what has survived. Whole buildings are dissolving away. I love the idea of a world—our world—that is disappearing.” As for Caesar, Ball said, viewers will wonder “what has happened to his stories, his legacy, his teachings?”

In a scene from Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, the chimpanzee Noa (played by Owen Teague) stands with his left arm held out, where an eagle is landing on his gloved hand. They are outside in a green landscape that stretches out behind them, out of focus.

Wasting no time, Ball took us through a moment of a few chimpanzee brothers bonding over their Eagle Tribe’s rite of passage. The visual detail on the chimpanzees was incredible; the way their emotions came through their eyes and body language alone is a testament to the amount of time Ball spent working with the actors. That included several weeks of training with a movement coach before filming began, as well as a visit by Andy Serkis, who schooled the cast on what he’d learned playing Caesar in the previous three movies.

“You’re walking around in this silly-looking [performance-capture] suit, and you [feel like you] look ridiculous,” Ball recounted, channeling the actors’ initial anxiety. Serkis helped them to understand “how you just get past that and just be—just do it. Be authentic. I think it was a real journey for all the [performers] at first.”

Ball shared how well the cast and crew bonded together as the performers got comfortable in the performance-capture suits. In fact, the actors became so intertwined with their characters, Ball said, that they would have fun messing with him in between sets, just like real life chimpanzees having fun with their favorite caregiver.

In a scene from Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, three chimpanzees are seen in the distance, climbing up a series of logs that lead up a steep slope. Some kind of ruin is visible overhead, with more ruins in the distance, all covered in vibrant green plant life.

Next, as Ball took us through some of the different landscapes featured in the movie—which was shot in Australia, largely on location—it became evident that he brought a considerable amount of beauty to this post-apocalyptic world. The realistic landscapes “create a different look for this movie,” Ball said. “It’s a lush, beautiful world that underneath is haunted with the remains of our existence.”

Viewers familiar with his previous work (the Maze Runner trilogy, Ruin) will get a fresh take on a post-apocalyptic world, this one filled with lush, vibrant lands that surround Noa as he ventures forth from his home.

Circumstances, Ball teased, “pull him on this grand adventure, and we reveal these bigger stories as our young character, Noa, goes off and learns about Caesar”—and so much more. “At the core of these movies really is, can apes and humans live together? That’s ultimately what it comes down to. We’re trying to be a thinking person’s movie as well as entertaining.”

In a scene from Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, the gorilla Proximus Caesar (played by Kevin Durand) stands with his back to the camera on some kind of elevated platform as he speaks to many dozens of his ape subjects, visible far below him in an arena-like space with a sandy surface. Proximus wears a crown with three spikes and what appears to be a leather mantle across his back and shoulders. A few red banners are visible here and there.

Lastly, of course, Ball had to end our day with a line from Proximus Caesar, “What a wonderful day!”—already a familiar catch phrase from the movie’s trailers.

What a wonderful day we had, indeed. Count on us to be there on Day 1 to watch this incredible movie. Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes will be in theaters beginning on Friday, May 10, 2024, available in IMAX®, Dolby Cinema®, 4DX, ScreenX, and premium screens. Tickets are now on sale wherever movie tickets are sold online.

Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is directed by Wes Ball and stars Owen Teague, Freya Allan, Kevin Durand, Peter Macon, and William H. Macy. The film is written by Josh Friedman, based on characters created by Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver. The producers are Wes Ball, Joe Hartwick Jr., Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, and Jason Reed, with Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping serving as executive producers.