Written by PETA
What inspired the makers of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which opens in theaters everywhere today, to create what MTV calls "perhaps the most expensive PSA against animal testing ever filmed"? The film's writers and producers, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, told us in this exclusive interview about the real-life apes who convinced them that their story must be told:
How did your involvement with this movie come about?
Rick had clipped out news articles about chimps raised in human homes and wondered if there was a good story there for a movie. After staring at the articles for a while, he realized that he was looking at a reboot idea for "Planet of the Apes"! We took the idea to Fox and that was the beginning.
Were you aware of the various ways in which great apes are mistreated by humans before you started work on this script? Did you learn anything that really opened your eyes about this issue while doing your research for the film?
Before we started writing the script, we did a lot of research about great apes and chimpanzees in particular. And yes, we were absolutely horrified by the various ways in which great apes are mistreated by humans. As our story came together, it was informed by this information, which indeed helped us galvanize the entire plot.
As you were working on the script, were you concerned that the studio might elect to use live apes for the production? How did you handle that issue?
From the very beginning, we knew that live apes could never be used in the making of this movie—it would be going against one of the major themes of our story. Much to our relief, everyone was on board with this point of view—[Director] Rupert Wyatt, Peter Chernin, and Dylan Clark (our producing partners), as well as the executives at Fox.
Do you feel that technology has gotten to the point where Hollywood can now use computer-generated imagery (CGI) instead of wild animals on set?
We are extremely excited about the fact that technology is getting to the point where Hollywood can rely on CGI instead of real animals on sets. And this technology is quickly improving. It's only going to become more efficient and affordable over time.
What do you feel this film says about humankind's relationship with animals? What are you hoping that people may take away from this film?
Our central theme was always that man's hubris could lead to his downfall—that man should not play God. This obviously extends to his relationship with animals. James Franco's character—and his incredibly nuanced performance—underscores the notion that abuse can sometimes happen even with the best of intentions.
What projects are you working on next?
We've just turned in a film re-write for a big time-travel action movie at Sony. We're currently pitching television ideas that we're very excited about.
Written by Alisa Mullins
I hope you're as stoked as I am to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which opens this Friday, August 5. The movie's message and CGI special effects are so animal-friendly that PETA has given director Rupert Wyatt a Proggy Award for recognizing that real great apes don't belong on production sets.
Given the impressive technology available now—and you'll see it in all its glory in this film—there's no need to hire wild-animal trainers who rip baby chimpanzees away from their mothers and physically abuse them to force them to perform on cue.
Run, walk, or swing through the trees—just don't wait to see this movie!
A PETA “chimpanzee” gives Rise of the Planet of the Apes two opposable thumbs up outside the premiere in Hollywood.
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Mark your calendars for August 5 in order to be first in line to buy tickets for the highly anticipated Rise of the Planet of the Apes—because no primates were used, harmed, or exploited in the making of the film. Producers 20th Century Fox and director Rupert Wyatt used exclusively computer-generated imagery (CGI), and not a single chimpanzee, orangutan, or monkey had to suffer the stress of behind-the-scenes beatings, confinement to cramped cages, and performing confusing tricks "on cue."
Says Wyatt, "Personally, I had moral problems with the idea of using chimps." An article in The Independent calls the "impressive" CGI apes a "highlight" of the film.
Do Wyatt and 20th Century Fox pull it off? Watch the trailer and judge for yourself:
Written by Jennifer O'Connor
Yes, you read that right. The upcoming movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the eagerly anticipated sequel to Planet of the Apes, has done the original one better. Unlike Planet of the Apes, no great apes were used in the production of the sequel—it relies entirely on computer-generated imagery (CGI). As seen in the just-released trailer, the movie’s lead ape character is actually actor Andy Serkis, who, through the magic of CGI and motion-capture technology, is turned into the chimpanzee leader, Caesar.
The spectacular digital effects are courtesy of Weta Digital, the Oscar-winning team behind Avatar, Lord of the Rings, and King Kong (whose director, Peter Jackson, earned a Proggy from PETA).
Chimpanzees and other great apes used for entertainment are torn away from their mothers as babies and physically and psychologically abused during training. When they reach adolescence and become too strong to control, they are often dumped at miserable roadside zoos, as was the fate of Chubbs, one of the chimpanzees used in the Tim Burton-directed Planet of the Apes.
Rise of the Planet of the Apes has a new director, Rupert Wyatt, who wanted to make the point that in this age of advanced realistic CGI technology, there is no need to use great apes in films. Here’s hoping that other studios will take note.
You’ll definitely want to see Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It sounds like a great contender for another Oscar for Weta, and perhaps a PETA Proggy Award too.
Written by Michelle Sherrow
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.