Fox said this afternoon that it's moving "Rise of the Apes" back five months, taking its "Planet of the Apes" prequel out of its planned summer date of June 24 and slotting it for Nov. 23. (Filmgoers will get a different animal in June, with the studio saying concurrently that it has moved up the Jim Carrey family film "Mr. Popper's Penguins" from its August release date to June 17.)
The move slows momentum on the quickly moving "Rise of the Apes," in which James Franco stars in a new version of the science-fiction classic. (He plays the scientist who discovers the apes mutating; Andy Serkis plays the chimp who leads the revolt.)
The studio announced in May that a reboot would be set for June 2011, saying that British director Rupert Wyatt would be offering a "completely new take on one of the studio’s most beloved and successful franchises." The cast was rounded out soon after, with production getting underway in the summer. (Pierre Boulle's novel, of course, spawned the 1968 Charlton Heston classic, which was followed by four sequels as well as a Tim Burton reimagining in 2001.)
The film is using photorealistic apes from Peter Jackson's Weta Digital effects company, and a Fox spokesman said that the November date will allow for increased postproduction time, and also steers the film to a place on the calendar with fewer big-budget action movies. This coming June-July period will see a number of effects-driven blockbuster hopefuls such as "X-Men: First Class," "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and the final film in the Harry Potter franchise.
Moving a film out of summer can sometimes set off alarm bells in Hollywood, but it doesn't necessarily bode ill for a movie; current comedy sequel "Little Fockers" was pushed back from July to Christmas and has wound up performing respectably over the holidays.
Photo: James Franco at the GQ Men of the Year party. Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images