Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
A chimp brandishes an automatic rifle while astride a rearing horse.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMatt Reeves
Produced by
Written by
Based onCharacters created 
by Rick Jaffa
Amanda Silver
Premise suggested by Planet of the Apes 
by Pierre Boulle
Music byMichael Giacchino
CinematographyMichael Seresin
Edited by
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • June 26, 2014 (2014-06-26) (San Francisco)
  • July 11, 2014 (2014-07-11) (United States)
Running time
131 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[2][3]
Budget$170 million[4]
Box office$708.8 million[4]
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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
A chimp brandishes an automatic rifle while astride a rearing horse.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMatt Reeves
Produced by
Written by
Based onCharacters created 
by Rick Jaffa
Amanda Silver
Premise suggested by Planet of the Apes 
by Pierre Boulle
Music byMichael Giacchino
CinematographyMichael Seresin
Edited by
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • June 26, 2014 (2014-06-26) (San Francisco)
  • July 11, 2014 (2014-07-11) (United States)
Running time
131 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States[2][3]
Budget$170 million[4]
Box office$708.8 million[4]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a 2014 American science fiction film directed by Matt Reeves and written by Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver. It stars Andy Serkis, Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell, Toby Kebbell, and Kodi Smit-McPhee. It is the sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which began 20th Century Fox's reboot of the original Planet of the Apes series.

It is the eighth theatrical film in the franchise. The film was released in United States and Canada on July 11, 2014 and was met with critical acclaim, with critics praising its visual effects, story, direction, acting and emotional depth. It was also a box office hit, having grossed over $708 million worldwide.

A third installment is scheduled for release in July 2017.


Ten years after the worldwide pandemic of the deadly ALZ-113 virus (dubbed the Simian Flu), human civilization is completely destroyed following martial law, civil unrest and the economic collapse of every country in the world. Over 90% of the human population has died in the pandemic, while apes with genetically enhanced intelligence have started to build a civilization of their own.

In the ruins of San Francisco, Caesar leads and governs a new generation of apes in a community located in the Muir Woods. While walking through the forest, Caesar's son Blue Eyes and his friend Ash encounter a human named Carver, who panics and shoots Ash, wounding him. Carver calls for the rest of his small party of armed survivors, led by a man named Malcolm, while Blue Eyes calls for the other apes. Caesar orders the humans to leave. The remaining humans in San Francisco, who are genetically immune to the virus, are living in a guarded and unfinished high-rise tower within the ruined city. Prompted by Koba, a scarred bonobo who holds a grudge against humans for his mistreatment, Caesar brings a large group of the apes to the city where he conveys the message that while the apes do not want war, they will fight to defend their home. He then demands that the humans stay in their territory and states the apes will stay in theirs too.

Malcolm convinces his fellow leader Dreyfus to give him three days to reconcile with the apes to gain access to a hydroelectric dam in their territory, which could provide long-term power to the city. Dreyfus, distrustful of the apes, arms survivors using an abandoned armory. Malcolm then travels into the ape village, but is captured by gorilla guards, who bring him to Caesar. After a tense discussion, Caesar allows Malcolm to work on the dam's generator, provided they surrender their guns. As Malcolm, his wife Ellie and son Alexander work, they bond with the apes. Mutual distrust of both sides gradually subsides; the truce is endangered when Caesar's infant son discovers a shotgun smuggled in by Carver, but the two sides reconcile when Ellie offers to help treat Caesar's ill wife Cornelia with antibiotics. Meanwhile, Koba discovers the armory and confronts Caesar, questioning his allegiance and taunting him over his "love" for humans. In response, Caesar severely beats Koba, but at the last moment refrains from killing him; adhering to his philosophy that "ape not kill ape," Caesar hesitantly forgives Koba. The furious Koba then returns to the armory, where he steals an assault rifle and murders two human guards. Returning home, he secretly kills Carver, stealing his lighter and cap.

The dam is eventually repaired, restoring power to the city. During the celebration, Koba sets fire to the apes' home, then, unseen to anyone else, shoots Caesar in the shoulder, causing him to fall from the settlement's main tree. In the panic of the loss of the alpha and the fire, Koba takes charge, and having planted Carver's cap at the scene of the shooting, orders the apes to war against the humans. Malcolm's group hides as Koba leads the apes into San Francisco. The apes plunder the armory and charge the tower's gates. Despite heavy casualties, the apes breach the gates using a hijacked armored car, overrun the tower and imprison all the humans as Dreyfus flees underground. When Ash refuses Koba's orders to kill unarmed humans, citing Caesar's teachings, Koba kills Ash and imprisons all those known to be loyal to Caesar.

Malcolm's group finds Caesar barely alive and transport him to his former home in San Francisco. Caesar reveals to Malcolm that Koba shot him, realizing his notion that all apes were better than humans was naïve. While the group is driving Caesar to safety, they stop by at the Rodman's home. Malcom leaves the group, and heads to the city to find medical supplies for Caesar. While looking for medical supplies, Malcolm encounters Blue Eyes; disenchanted with Koba's leadership, the young ape spares Malcolm's life and returns to the house with him, where he reconciles with his father. Caesar grows nostalgic watching video clips from his childhood of his former owner and father figure Will Rodman's old camcorder as Malcolm learns of Caesar's past. A plan is put into action: Blue Eyes returns to the tower and frees the caged humans and apes loyal to Caesar, then Malcolm leads the apes, unseen, into the tower from below. After accomplishing this, Malcolm encounters Dreyfus, who informs him that his men have made radio contact with more survivors at a military base to the north, who are on their way to help fight the apes. Caesar confronts Koba at the top of the tower, but as they battle, Dreyfus detonates C-4 charges he has planted beneath the tower. The resulting explosion kills him and collapses part of the tower. Caesar overpowers Koba, with Koba hanging over the edge of the tower. Pleading for his life, Koba reminds Caesar that apes do not kill apes, but Caesar states that Koba is not an ape and lets him fall to his death.

Malcolm informs Caesar of the impending arrival of human military reinforcements and both lament the lost opportunity for peace. Caesar tells Malcolm that the humans will never forgive the apes for the war they started and advises him to leave with his family for safety as the two of them acknowledge their friendship. As Malcolm disappears into the shadows, Caesar stands before a kneeling mass of apes, awaiting the war to come.



James Franco, who played Dr. Will Rodman in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, has a cameo via a video from Caesar's childhood.


Film set on Rampart Street, New Orleans, May 2013


After the release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, director Rupert Wyatt commented on possible sequels: "I think we're ending with certain questions, which is quite exciting. To me, I can think of all sorts of sequels to this film, but this is just the beginning."[5] Screenwriter and producer Rick Jaffa also stated that Rise featured several clues as to future sequels: "I hope that we're building a platform for future films. We're trying to plant a lot of the seeds for a lot of the things you are talking about in terms of the different apes and so forth."[6]

In an interview recorded after the release of Rise, Wyatt stated, "We want to grow and evolve, in the films that will [hopefully] come after this, to the '68 original."[7] Wyatt also stated that he wants it to take place eight years after Rise, as a whole new ape generation can be born, and explore the dynamics of Caesar and Koba's relationship.[8] According to screenwriter Rick Jaffa, a version of the spaceship from the 1968 Planet of the Apes under the name Icarus was in Rise as a deliberate hint to a possible sequel.[9]

In November 2011, Andy Serkis was the first to be announced as having closed a deal for a sequel to Rise. It was reported to be a "healthy seven-figure deal" for him to reprise his role as Caesar, the ape leader.[10] On May 15, 2012, it was announced Scott Z. Burns had been hired to do rewrites on the original screenplay by Rise writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver.[11] On May 31, 2012, 20th Century Fox announced that the sequel, now titled Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, was scheduled for release on May 23, 2014.[12]


On September 17, 2012, there were reports that director Wyatt was considering leaving the sequel due to his concern that a May 2014 release date would not give him enough time to make the film properly.[13] On October 1, Cloverfield director Matt Reeves was confirmed as his replacement.[14] Reeves had been working on developing a new Twilight Zone film.[15] On October 18, Mark Bomback, writer of Live Free or Die Hard, was reported to be doing a re-write for Reeves.[16] It was announced on June 20, 2013 that the release date for Dawn was being pushed back two months to July 18, 2014.[17] On December 10, 2013, the film was pushed up one week to July 11, 2014.[18]


In December 2012, after the departure of director Wyatt, James Franco speculated that he would not be returning for the sequel, saying, "Now Rupert's not a part of it so I don't know. My guess is I won't be in it. Nobody's talked to me since Rupert left."[19] Later, Matt Reeves revealed that Franco would be seen in a cameo in the film.[20][21] Freida Pinto, who played primatologist Caroline Aranha in Rise, confirmed that she would not be returning for Dawn.[22] In April 2014, when asked by IGN about the fate of Franco and Pinto's characters, producer Dylan Clark said, "I mean, they’re the ones that died...They were ground zero of the virus."[23]

In February 2013, actors Gary Oldman, Jason Clarke, and Kodi Smit-McPhee were cast in lead roles for the sequel, set ten years after the events from the first film.[24][25] In March 2013, actress Keri Russell was cast in a role.[26] That same month, Judy Greer was cast as Cornelia, a female chimp and love interest for Caesar.[27] Toby Kebbell, Enrique Murciano and Kirk Acevedo joined the cast during filming.[28] On May 15, 2013, Jocko Sims was cast in a supporting role of military operative Werner.[29]


Filming began in April 2013 around the town of Campbell River, British Columbia.[30] The location of Vancouver Island was chosen for its similarity to the locations depicted in the film, the forests, and the variety of landscapes.[31] Filming in New Orleans started in May 2013 and continued in July 2013 at various locations such as the former Six Flags park Six Flags New Orleans.[32]


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Soundtrack album by Michael Giacchino
ReleasedAugust 12, 2014
GenreFilm score
LabelSony Masterworks
Michael Giacchino film scores chronology
Star Trek Into Darkness
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
This Is Where I Leave You

The film's score was composed by Michael Giacchino. The soundtrack was released by Sony Masterworks on July 8, 2014.[33]

Track listing[edit]

All music composed by Michael Giacchino.

1."Level Plaguing Field"  2:21
2."Look Who’s Stalking"  2:35
3."The Great Ape Processional"  4:34
4."Past Their Primates"  1:57
5."Close Encounters of the Furred Kind"  4:38
6."Monkey to the City"  1:16
7."The Lost City of Chimpanzee"  3:46
8."Along Simian Lines"  5:04
9."Caesar No Evil, Hear No Evil"  2:27
10."Monkey See, Monkey Coup"  5:12
11."Gorilla Warfare"  7:37
12."The Apes of Wrath"  4:28
13."Gibbon Take"  2:55
14."Aped Crusaders"  3:26
15."How Bonobo Can You Go"  5:42
16."Enough Monkeying Around"  3:35
17."Primates for Life"  5:42
18."Planet of the End Credits"  8:56
19."Ain’t That a Stinger"  1:10


A viral marketing campaign for the film launched in July 2013 included a "simian flu" website[34] and mock PSA videos.[35] 20th Century Fox and Vice Media's Motherboard released three short films online in July 2014 which document the ten year gap between the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.[36] A novel titled Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm which is also set between the events of the two films was published in May 2014 by Titan Books.[37] A partnership with 20th Century Fox and Ndemic Creations saw mobile/PC game Plague Inc. get a Dawn of the Planet of the Apes-themed update on July 10, 2014. It allows players to create and customize a simian flu virus to infect the world and eradicate humanity whilst helping apes survive.[38]


The film closed the 36th Moscow International Film Festival on June 28, 2014.[39]

In Hungary, the largest cinema chain called Cinema City could not agree with the film's distributor, InterCom, and as a result it opened on July 17, 2014 on 45 screens, significantly fewer than similar big-budget productions.[40] However, the film still managed to top the weekend box office chart of the country beating Transformers: Age of Extinction, which had been leading the chart for three weeks (on 105 screens distributed by UIP Duna).[41]

Box office[edit]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was a success at the box office with many critics calling it "the summer’s best popcorn film".[42] The film grossed $208,545,589 in North America and $500,290,000 in other territories for a worldwide total of $708,835,589.[4] It had a worldwide opening of $103.3 million which was the 11th highest of 2014.[43] Worldwide it is the highest-grossing film in the Planet of the Apes franchise[44] and the seventh highest-grossing film of 2014.[45]

In North America, unadjusted for inflation, the film is the highest grossing film in the Planet of the Apes franchise[44] and eight highest-grossing film of 2014.[46] Dawn of the Planet of the Apes opened in North America on July 11, 2014 across 3,967 theaters. It topped the box office on its opening day earning $27.7 million (including previews).[47] During its traditional three-opening the film debuted at #1 earning $72,611,424 at an average of $18,304 per theater which was 33% higher than its predecessor. Box Office Mojo pointed out that the film's good word of mouth as well as its predecessors', its darker tone, attachment of new characters and of first film's way of ending were all a determining factors of the film's strong opening.[48] In CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave the film an average grade of A- on an A+ to F scale.[48] It remained at the summit for two consecutive weekends in North America despite facing competition with The Purge: Anarchy in its second week.[49][50]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes earned $31.3 million during its opening weekend internationally from 4,913 screens in 26 markets where it opened at #1 in 14 of those. International opening weekend tallies of more than $5 million were witnessed in the UK ($14.88 million), Mexico ($12.94 million), Korea ($11.5 million), Russia ($9.99 million), Brazil with ($9.2 million) and Australia ($6.6 million).[51][52] The film topped the box office outside North America for two non-consecutive weekends.[52][53]

Critical response[edit]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was met with widespread critical acclaim.[54][55][56] On review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a score of 91% based on 243 reviews with a rating average of 7.9 out of 10. The website's consensus reads: "With intelligence and emotional resonance to match its stunning special effects, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes expands on its predecessor with an exciting and ambitious burst of sci-fi achievement."[57] On review aggregator Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average, the film has a "generally favorable" rating score of 79 out of 100 based on 48 reviews.[58]

Guy Lodge of Variety said, "An altogether smashing sequel to 2011's better-than-expected Rise of the Planet of the Apes, this vivid, violent extension of humanoid ape Caesar's troubled quest for independence bests its predecessor in nearly every technical and conceptual department, with incoming helmer Matt Reeves conducting the proceedings with more assertive genre elan than Rise journeyman Rupert Wyatt."[59] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter stated that the film "manages to do at least three things exceptionally well that are hard enough to pull off individually: Maintain a simmering level of tension without let-up for two hours, seriously improve on a very good first entry in a franchise and produce a powerful humanistic statement using a significantly simian cast of characters. In the annals of sequels, Dawn is to Rise of the Planet of the Apes what The Empire Strikes Back was to Star Wars—it's that much better."[60] Tim Robey of The Telegraph said, "There's evident patience and intelligence to the filmmaking all over, as well as an engagement with genuine ideas about diplomacy, deterrence, law and leadership. However often it risks monkey-mad silliness, it's impressively un-stupid."[61] Drew McWeeny of HitFix awarded the film "A+" and said "Dawn is not just a good genre movie or a good summer movie. It's a great science-fiction film, full-stop, and one of the year's very best movies so far."[62]

Ty Burr of the Boston Globe wrote that "in bearing, speech, and agonized expressiveness, Serkis’s Caesar conveys the conflicts of a king with almost Shakespearean grandeur."[63] A.O. Scott of The New York Times praised the film for being able to balance out the action sequences and special effects with strong storytelling, writing that "Dawn is more than a bunch of occasionally thrilling action sequences, emotional gut punches and throwaway jokes arranged in predictable sequence. It is technically impressive and viscerally exciting, for sure, but it also gives you a lot to think, and even to care, about."[64]

Less favourable reviews included Andrew O'Hehir at Salon.com who wrote, "Here’s a rule that has gradually become clear to me: Any film that begins with one of those fake-news montages, where snippets of genuine CNN footage are stitched together to concoct a feeling of semi-urgency around its hackneyed apocalypse, already sucks even before it gets started. This one makes a dutiful attempt to struggle back from that suckage, but it all ends in yelling."[65]

Home media[edit]

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes was released by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment on Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray, and DVD on December 2, 2014.[66] According to Nielsen VideoScan, it subsequently became the best-selling home video release for the week.[67]


On January 6, 2014, the studio announced a third installment with Reeves returning to direct and co-write along with Bomback for a July 2016 release.[68][69] An early licensing promo gave a place-holder title of Planet of the Apes,[70] but no official title has yet been announced. In January 2015, Fox delayed the release of the film to July 14, 2017.[71][72]


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