“War for the Planet of the Apes” will be getting an Oscar campaign from its studio, 20th Century Fox, in the hopes of landing an unprecedented Best Picture nomination for the long-running sci-fi franchise. Is it far-fetched? Hardly — a long-running sci-fi franchise made the cut at the Oscars just two years ago: “Mad Max: Fury Road,” which was nominated for 10 awards and won six, more than any other film that year.
The “Mad Max” franchise from director George Miller started in 1979 and spawned sequels in 1981 and 1985 before the Oscar winning fourth film 30 years later. “Planet of the Apes” has spawned even more films than that since the iconic first film in 1968. That was followed by “Beneath the Planet of the Apes” (1970), “Escape from the Planet of the Apes” (1971), “Conquest of the Planet of the Apes” (1972), and “Battle for the Planet of the Apes” (1973).
Director Tim Burton tried to relaunch the franchise in 2001, but his “Planet of the Apes” received mixed reviews and no sequels followed. However, another reboot was much more successful a decade later: “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” (2011), which introduced motion-capture actor Andy Serkis as evolving chimp Caesar. “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (2014) followed, and “War for the Planet of the Apes” received some of the best reviews of the franchise — and some of the best reviews of the year — when it was released this summer.
The original “Planet of the Apes” earned Oscar nominations for its costumes and score, and won an honorary award for its makeup. But that was it for the franchise until “Rise” in 2011, which earned a bid for its visual effects. “Dawn” contended in the same category three years later. So the “War” for more Oscar nominations than that seems on paper like an uphill battle, but the motion picture academy is rapidly changing, getting younger, more diverse, and more international, and the success of sci-fi films in recent years — not just “Mad Max,” but also “Avatar” (2009) “District 9” (2009), “Inception” (2010), “Gravity” (2013), and “The Martian” (2015) — suggests that the door is open for the “War” to be won this year.
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