I hate epilogues. I HATE them. That’s why I giggle in joy when movies like RoboCop, Rocky and The Karate Kid end with an upper cut and a freeze frame. There’s no need for extra exposition as we don’t need to see the aftermath of Dick Jones being fired, Rocky nearly beating Apollo Creed, and Johnny getting crane-kicked in the face. We get it, audience aren’t as stupid as Hollywood seems to think they are.
With that said, I bask in this report by /Film, who talked with director Matt Reeves about an alternate ending to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. In it, the movie never ends, bleeding into an epilogue that would have taken the heart and soul out of the finale, and leaked into sequel territory (like the eye-rolling ending of The Amazing Spider-Man 2).
Reeves begins talking about receiving his shots to edit very late in the game, and deciding to recut the entry of the film, while also making a huge trim to the film’s epic conclusion.
As those shots actually finally come in and the backgrounds are in, you suddenly realize oh wait, okay, this shot should be held this long, not that long. And there was a frantic period of editing, literally in the last three weeks. Let’s do another pass on the movie. And I ended up taking out a couple sequences that I loved because I thought the movie played better without them. And we will put those somewhere on the DVD or an extended cut or something.
And what was different about the ending was that after the ending that you see in the final film, the idea was that the apes went out on a kind of exodus through the city and they gathered on the Golden Gate Bridge in order to look into the distance for the approaching warships. And I felt that it was taking us too far into the next movie. And almost starting the next movie and not letting the emotion of what had just happened, of what Caesar had just achieved and what Caesar had the price that he had paid. It wasn’t letting that resonate and it wasn’t ending, the final shot with again hopefully not spoiler way, but the final shot was actually in a way the very same final shot. It was actually him on top of the Golden Gate Bridge which was covered in apes, all looking out way, way into the distance and to see this really like messed up armada way in the distance showing up like really like ships in disrepair. And it moved into his eyes as he took in the uncertain future.
Reeves talks a lot more about the epilogue over at /Film, but it’s a little filibuster-y for me.