From Entertainment Weekly, 5/10/96:
The Apes Of Wrath
Anatomy of a remake
by Anne Thompson
And speaking of cheesy '70s movies...
When Twentieth Century Fox decided three years ago to remake Planet of the
Apes, the decision could have been made by a chimp. After all, the 1968
sci-fi classic starring Charlton Heston spawned a '70s phenomenon that included
four sequels and a TV series, and after two decades of dormancy the franchise
seemed ripe to be exploited again. But what could have become a retooled cash
machine instead became a monkey on the studio's back. What happened? A
reconstruction of the events:
Fox gives a go ahead to the remake with the producing team of Don Murphy, Jane
Hamsher, and Oliver Stone. The trio hire screenwriter Terry Hayes (The Road
Warrior), who develops a story about a geneticist who time-travels back to
an ape-dominated society. "It was a no-brainer," says Murphy. "A
can't-miss hit. A merchandising tidal wave."
Stone taps Arnold Schwarzenegger to star--which means the buffed one also gets a
say in the choice of director. In the meantime, Fox calls for rewrites.
"Terry wrote a Terminator," says Murphy, "and Fox wanted The
Schwarzenegger approves director Philip Noyce (Patriot Games). Stone is
ready to proceed with a healthy $100 million budget--but Fox is still unhappy
with the script.
Noyce commits to develop The Saint for Paramount. Fox brings aboard
director Chris Columbus (Nine Months), who rewrites the script with
screenwriter Sam Hamm (Batman). James Cameron enters the mix as another
possible producer. Schwarzenegger goes off to make Eraser with The
Mask director Chuck Russell, who was once in the running to helm Apes.
Cameron ends up passing. Columbus exits and later signs on to Jingle All the
Fox offers the film to director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day), but
he declines. The studio then pursues New Zealand director Peter Jackson (Heavenly
Creatures), who pitched his own take on an Apes film to the studio back in
1992. Jackson, however, decides to commit to Universal for another big primate
remake: King Kong.
Fox swears Apes is alive and kicking. "We see the potential for a big
movie," says studio president Bill Mechanic. "It won't get to the
screen by the most linear path, but it's going to get made."