As we've already explained, director Matt Reeves saved Dawn of the Planet of the Apes from becoming like any number of other mediocre blockbuster sequels. And that was before we even knew he also changed the ending to the movie. Now Reeves' superherolike sequel-saving abilities are undeniable.
Warning: The below contains spoilers about the ending(s) of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
The theatrical cut of Dawn ends with a beleaguered Caesar leading the war-torn apes back to their home, though not before stopping on the Golden Gate Bridge to stare across into an unseen future. It's a great moment because it puts a bookend on the story and allows the audience to consider everything they've just watched. However, that wasn't originally the plan. Originally it was going to end, as it seems all franchise blockbusters do these days, by teasing the next movie.
Screenwriter Mark Bomback and Reeves have both opened up about the abandoned ending, which would have depicted battleships approaching San Francisco, heading right towards the apes, and Caesar's army staring them down. However, wisely, they realized that's a pretty silly ending for a number of reasons. As Bomback said on The Q&A Podcast, "The people on the battleship we don’t know. It’s weird to end your movie with strangers... On a purely character level, it’s Caesar’s story. Why are we leaving Caesar at the end of his story? We want to end on his emotional place, not on a battleship."
Reeves echoed that answer when talking to Slashfilm and also emphasized how using an ending that teased events we'd never see meant they were locking in what kind of story they would have to tell for the untitled 2016 Planet of the Apes sequel. It's yet another one of his wise, forward-thinking decisions that helped elevate the sequel. Audiences may love that last final tease of what's to come, but as you can see from the X-Men franchise (also made by 20th Century Fox), unless you have every single one of your ducks in a row, eventually you might start messing with continuity if you keep setting up stuff that doesn't pay off later. Then when you get to a movie like Days of Future Past, you have to pretend some stuff you've already shown audiences never even happened.
Instead, Reeves killed the setup for the next movie and let the movie you just watched stand on its own. What a bold, insane notion, right?
As you can see from the above screenshot, taken from the trailer, at least some amount of this warship footage was completed, but don't expect to see it on the DVD. Reeves told Slashfilm that ending was never completed and likely won't be on the DVD, but there may be other, more finished footage included:
And there was a frantic period of editing, literally in the last three weeks. Let’s do another pass on the movie. And I ended up taking out a couple sequences that I loved because I thought the movie played better without them. And we will put those somewhere on the DVD or an extended cut or something.
But what say you? Are you glad Reeves decided to hit the delete key on the battleship ending?
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