Before launching into a conversation about the latest “Planet of the Apes” film, hone up on the franchise with our overview so you can become the top banana with your friends. Start out by sharing that the films were inspired by the 1963 science fiction novel “La Planete des singes,” by French author Pierre Boulle.PLANET OF THE APES
Release date: February 1968.
Rank: Original film.
Director: Franklin J. Schaffner.
Starring: Humans: Charlton Heston, Linda Harrison. Apes: Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter.
Synopsis: In 3978 A.D., astronauts crash on an Earthlike planet and quickly discover apes are in charge. Taylor (Charlton Heston) is imprisoned and two scientist apes, Cornelius and Zira (Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter), learn he is intelligent and can speak. He escapes, but is recaptured and threatened with a lobotomy. The scientists free Taylor and take him, along with Nova (Linda Harrison), a female human, to the Forbidden Zone. In a cave there, Taylor is shown artifacts that indicate a human society predating the apes'. The scientists' boss orders the cave sealed with explosives to hide the finds, while Taylor and Zora ride a horse to a new life, but not without first discovering the remains of the Statue of Liberty. The astronauts landed back on Earth.BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES
Release date: May 1970.
Rank: Original series, second film.
Director: Ted Post.
Starring: Humans: Charlton Heston, Linda Harrison, James Francisus. Ape: Kim Hunter.
Synopsis: A spaceship in search of Taylor and his crew crashes on the planet and its survivor Brent (James Franciscus) finds Zora alone. The two go to Ape City hoping to find Taylor, but find trouble instead and manage to escape. They end up in ruins of the New York subway, which leads them to a group of telepathic humans who worship an ancient nuclear bomb and, finally, they find Taylor. As apes invade the hidden city, Taylor activates the bomb and destroys Earth.ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES
Release date: May 1971.
Rank: Original series, third film.
Director: Don Taylor.
Starring: Humans: Charlton Heston (archival footage), Ricardo Montalban. Apes: Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter, Sal Mineo.
Synopsis: As the nuclear bomb exploded in the second movie three of the apes, Cornelius, Zira and Dr. Milo (Sal Mineo), escape Earth in Taylor's repaired spaceship. Hit by a shock wave, they land on Earth in 1973 and are taken to the Los Angeles Zoo. Once the apes' intelligence and speech is revealed, they become celebrities. This is short-lived, as the government learns that Cornelius and Zira are from the future and presses them to explain how apes come to rule over humans. The president finds out Zira is pregnant and orders an abortion. The ape couple flees, finding shelter with circus owner Armando (Ricardo Montalban). Zira gives birth to Milo at the same time Heloise, a common ape, has a son as well. The government hunts for the ape family and kills them, unaware that Armando and Cornelius switched babies and Milo is safe.CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Release date: June 1972.
Rank: Original series, fourth film.
Director: J. Lee Thompson.
Starring: Human: Ricardo Montalban. Ape: Roddy McDowall.
Synopsis: It's 1991. Seven years before, a disease killed off all cats and dogs, so people took in apes as pets. Now the apes have become slave laborers. Armando (Ricardo Montalban) and Caesar (Roddy McDowall), who had been born to Cornelius and Zira as Milo, are distributing fliers advertising their circus. Seeing an ape being beaten, Caesar speaks out, which leads to him being captured and forced into slavery. Meanwhile, Armando is interrogated and escapes by committing suicide. When Caesar learns of his foster father's death, he begins the riot and revolt that will lead to the downfall of humans.BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES
Release date: June 1973.
Rank: Original series, fifth film.
Director: J. Lee Thompson.
Starring: Human: Severn Darden. Apes: Roddy McDowall, Claude Akins, Paul Williams, John Huston, Natalie Trundy.
Synopsis: The story of Caesar continues, told in flashbacks by the orangutan Lawgiver (John Huston) in 2670 A.D. Caesar, who has started his own family with Lisa (Natalie Trundy), tries to make peace between apes and humans. He goes to the Forbidden City to find information on his parents. Aldo (Claude Akins) plots a coup against Caesar to become ape leader, while human Kolp (Severn Darden) launches an attack against Ape City. As Lawgiver completes his tale, it is revealed that his audience is a mix of apes and humans, who have forged a new society in which they peacefully coexist.PLANET OF THE APES
Release date: August 2001.
Rank: A reimagining, rather than a remake.
Director: Tim Burton.
Starring: Humans: Mark Wahlberg, Estella Warren. Ape: Helena Bonham Carter.
Synopsis: Astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) crash-lands on the ape-ruled planet called Ashlar in 5021. He had been trying to find his chimpanzee co-worker Pericles, who left the space station they were working on in another craft. Davidson is captured by the apes. A female chimpanzee, Ari (Helena Bonham Carter), buys the now-slaves Davidson and Daena (Estella Warren). Davidson escapes and discovers the ruins of his space station and learns that the apes and humans who were on board are the ancestors of the inhabitants of Ashlar. Pericles shows up and is treated like a god. Davidson decides to try to return home and does, but once on Earth, realizes that history has changed and the planet is already dominated by apes.RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Release date: August 2011.
Rank: Reboot series, first film.
Director: Rupert Wyatt.
Starring: Humans: James Franco, John Lithgow, Tyler Labine. Ape: Andy Serkis.
Synopsis: San Francisco scientist Will Rodman (James Franco) is testing a drug for Alzheimer's disease on chimpanzees, which results in one going into a rampage. She is destroyed, but Rodman rescues her son, calling him Caesar (Andy Serkis). He takes the baby home to his father (John Lithgow), who has Alzheimer's. Rodman discovers Caesar's intelligence and begins working from home so he can study the chimp. Rodman finds a stronger gaseous version of the drug that increases intelligence and offers to help his father with it, but he refuses and dies the same night. Rodman's friend Robert Franklin (Tyler Labine) has been exposed to the new drug, which is actually a virus, and becomes ill and dies, but not without first sneezing on his airline pilot neighbor. Caesar gets into the drug testing facility, exposes the apes there to the drug and sets them free. After a battle, the apes escape to the redwood forest. The virus is moving through the human population, leaving a path of death around the globe.DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES
Release date: July 11.
Rank: Reboot series, second film.
Director: Matt Reeves.
Starring: Humans: James Franco (archival footage), Gary Oldman, Keri Russell. Ape: Andy Serkis.
Synopsis: It is 10 years since the viral epidemic killed most humans. Caesar and his followers come upon a group of human survivors. The two factions forge a frail alliance, which shatters as humans and apes grapple to become the dominating mammals of Earth.
Release date: July 2016.
Rank: Reboot series, third film.UNTITLED
Release date: July 2016.
Rank: Reboot series, third film.
Director: Matt Reeves.
Starring: To be announced.
Synopsis: 20th Century Fox has signed a deal with Reeves for a sequel. Reeves is set to write the script with Mark Bomback, who also worked on “Dawn.” No plotline is available at this time.