A new trailer for Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes was released last night at the Super Bowl, revealing Easter eggs galore and a closer look at the movie’s formidable new foe: an ape called Proximus. GamesRadar+ was invited to an exclusive preview screening of the new trailer in Los Angeles, where director Wes Ball had lots to say about the story and its intriguing new ape villain.
“Proximus [played by Kevin Durand] is a fantastically cool character,” admits Ball. “He is a fan of humans. You see it in the trailer. He says how they were capable of great things. ‘They could level mountains. They could speak across oceans. They could fly like eagles fly.’ He's fascinated by what humans were and how they fell so far, so he studies them. He knows more about humans than any other ape in our story.”
Ball confirms that the setting of the upcoming movie is the west coast of the USA, taking place generations after the end of the 2011-2017 trilogy. “It’s hundreds of years later, not thousands, but we don’t really put a date on it,” he says.
In this landscape, the buildings of the former human world are now falling into disrepair and ruin. Forests and greenery grows through the dilapidated, decaying remains of the skyscrapers that used to dominate the skyline.
This new timeline finally puts to bed the online rumors that Noa – the protagonist of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes (played by Owen Teague) – is the son of Caesar (Andy Serkis) from the previous Apes trilogy. Regardless, Caesar’s story still plays a significant role in the narrative.
The director teases, “We get to play around with the idea of, ‘What has happened to Caesar’s legacy? What has survived?’ The buildings are dissolving away, but what has happened to Caesar’s stories, his legacies and his teachings?’”
Fans of the franchise will be rewarded with a slew of Easter eggs, including nods to characters of the past and scenes reminiscent of the original 1968 film. While Ball admits that audiences do not need to have seen any of the previous Apes films to enjoy the upcoming adventure, there are definite connections and it helps to know about some of the previous stories.
“You will not see any Statue of Liberty in this movie, but there are Easter eggs” he promises. “There’s a ton of them, all the way down to sounds that we literally took from the ’68 version. There are specific things that I think some of the die-hard fans will really appreciate.”
A clear call-back to the earlier movies can be seen in the new trailer, where Noa is tied to a human (Mae, played by Freya Allan) in a remote beach setting. The pair is pulled along the sand by a team of apes on horses in a sequence that feels very reminiscent of the Charlton Heston original, although an imposing rusty ship in the sequence – which ties the action directly to the new ape foe, Proximus – is notably different.
“That beach scene is very cool,” explains actor Owen Teague, speaking exclusively to GamesRadar+ via Zoom. “It’s very 1968. That was the first thing we shot. Obviously, the ship is not real in that scene. It’s CG, but they did build part of the ship – just not for that shot. It was kind of a warm-up day for me because it was the first time Noa was on camera.”
On Zoom, Teague is visibly passionate about the project – and very eager for audiences to see the new trailer. “I’m really excited for fans to finally see more of the world and story we're telling,” he tells us. “The first teaser hinted at things, but it didn’t really explain much. This trailer really gives you a sense of what Noa is up against, which is Proximus. It’s exciting because Proximus is such a great character.”
When it comes to other Easter eggs and hidden references, the trailer showcases a number of space-related images – including planetary models of the solar system and the glimpse of a scene that features a large telescope. Space has played an important role in previous Planet of the Apes films, with astronauts going missing and a look at time travelling notions from the original 1968 movie. But how much does it play into the story of upcoming film?
Asked about the significance of this intergalactic theme, Ball looks to the future of the franchise instead of Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes, which is the first of a proposed new trilogy. “This [fascination with space] is in the DNA of the movies,” he tells GamesRadar+. “That’s what we touch on, essentially. There's more to come. If we're lucky enough, there are more ideas to come in two and three. From the very beginning, space is obviously a huge component of this thing – but I am not saying there are time travelling astronauts in this movie. There’s none of that, but it’s an idea in the movie for sure.”
Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes is released in US and UK theaters on May 10. For more from our interviews, we also discussed the 'ape school' the cast attended and the role Andy Serkis played in the making of the movie.
For more films coming your way, check out our guide to the other biggest upcoming movies.