The original Planet Of The Apes series is a weird artifact these days, going from enormous popularity to general obscurity in the decades since release, with pretty much only the first movie still having any kind of relevance—and that’s mostly just because of its ending, and maybe the Simpsons episode with the Planet Of The Apes musical. And yet the Planet Of The Apes brand is still valuable, which is why there have been two reboots since the original series ended that tried to modernize the concept (one a big flop, the other a fairly big hit that got two sequels).
But it might soon be time to revisit that original series, because Deadline is reporting that producers Uri Singer and Aimee Peyronnet have just picked up the rights to an even weirder artifact from the old Planet Of The Apes days: the original unproduced screenplay for a Planet Of The Apes sequel written by Pierre Boulle, the novelist behind the original Planet Of The Apes book (and The Bridge Over The River Kwai, but that’s not super relevant).
This unmade screenplay, which Boulle was asked to write after the movie adaptation of his book became a hit, is called Planet Of The Men, and it’s like a weird alternate universe version of Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (the actual sequel that Hollywood ended up making) with an ending that is arguably darker than the one Beneath writer Paul Dehn came up with—where an atomic bomb is detonated, killing all life on the futuristic Earth.
According to the Planet Of The Apes fan wiki, Planet Of The Men would’ve covered nearly two decades of life among the apes and a society of rebel humans—led by Charlton Heston’s Taylor, who becomes sort of their messiah figure as he teaches them how to speak and take care of themselves. As conflicts between the two sides escalate, the apes start to regress to more animal-like behavior and the humans become more vicious and bloodthirsty.
When the humans overthrow Ape City and win the war, Taylor declares that the apes should all be put in cages and forced to entertain humans. The screenplay ends with famous ape Doctor Zaius locked up in a circus, struggling to say his own name. It’s no “everyone dies,” but god damn, it’s not an especially flattering assessment of humanity.
Singer and Peyronnet intend to turn Planet Of The Men into a TV show, but it’s not the only Pierre Boulle project they’ve picked up. Deadline says they also got the rights to The Virtues Of Hell, a novel about a soldier getting involved in the heroin trade when he tries to use drugs to treat his PTSD. The plan is to turn that one into a movie, but both of these seem pretty early (since only producers are on board at this point).