Rise director Rupert Wyatt, who was previously been confirmed to direct a trilogy of Apes films, has left the second film in its development phase.
20th Century Fox confirmed back in April that a new film was in the works to follow up the success of Rise of the Planet of the Apes and that everyone pertinent would be back for the second one. Recently, the studio set the release date as May 23rd, 2014, which means the crew needs to finish up development and begin filming by Spring 2013 if the above-mentioned schedule is to be kept. Wyatt apparently had issues with this strategy and cited the cramped schedule as his reason for declining to work on the new film.
Ironically, Fox likely would have set the release date even sooner, if they didn't have to wait for Andy Sekris to finish up his work on the new Hobbit films.
Sekris, a talented facial motion-capture performer most famously plays Gollum in the Lord of the Rings franchise, a role he reprised for The Hobbit, a series of three films which only recently completed primary photography. Of course, Serkis also plays the lead role, an ape named Caesar, in the Apes franchise.
The studio has already approved the script for the film, but now has to search for a new director to fill Wyatt's place at the helm. Hopefully this won't negatively affect the quality we saw in the first movie. While not everyone agreed with me that it was the best film of 2011, it certainly received high box office takes and generated positive reception. I suppose we'll see how much of that was due to Wyatt himself. I just hope that this sequel takes the story somewhere just as interesting, especially after the phenomenal set-up at the end of the first film.
The Rise sequel, rumored to be titled Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, will likely begin production next spring. The release has already been slated for May 23rd, 2014. The first film is currently available on Blu-ray.