From the iconic sci-fi epic starring Charlton Heston as an American astronaut transported into the distant future to the 2001 remake starring Mark Wahlberg and then to the successful reboot series following Andy Serkis’ hyper-intelligent ape Caesar, the Planet of the Apes movies have taken place all over the universe and different timelines. And even though there have been nearly a dozen entries released over the past 50-plus years, watching the Planet of the Apes movies in order is a lot easier than you would think.
Below is a breakdown of the various series, the movies in each of them, and how to watch it all in one easy-to-follow order. Sit back and relax because we’re about to rise, escape, battle, and conquest our way through the Planet of the Apes franchise so far.
The Planet Of The Apes Movies In Order: Release Date
There are two ways you can go about watching the Planet of the Apes movies in order: by release date or chronologically. If you want to check out the movies in the order in which they were released in theaters, list found below is your best bet.
- Planet Of The Apes (1968)
- Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (1970)
- Escape From Planet Of The Apes (1971)
- Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (1972)
- Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (1973)
- Planet Of The Apes (2001)
- Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011)
- Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)
- War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017)
The Planet Of The Apes Movies In Order: Chronologically
The timeline of the original Planet of the Apes movies is a tad bit convoluted if we’re being honest. But worry not, as we have put together a list of the movies in order chronologically in case you were wanting to watch the series in this order.
The first leg of the Planet of the Apes franchise kicked off in 1968 and would see a total of five entries before concluding in 1973 with Battle For the Planet of the Apes though two television series — Planet of the Apes and Return to the Planet of the Apes — would follow throughout the mid-1970s. Although they were released later, the final three movies in the franchise are actually prequels that further establish the lore of Planet of the Apes.
Escape From The Planet Of The Apes (Set In 1971)
Set in the final moments of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the third film in the franchise, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, follows a group of three apes — Cornelius (Roddy McDowall), Zira (Kim Hunter), and Milo (Sal Mineo) — as they attempt to make it off the planet before it is destroyed. But instead of being transported to safety, the trio find themselves on Earth in 1971, where they are captured by humans and subjected to various experiments. The third entry in the franchise touches on many of the same subjects and themes of its predecessor but from a much different perspective.
Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes (Set In 1991)
Released in 1972, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is a direct follow-up to the film that came one year earlier and touches on the rebellion of the primates who have been used as slaves since the conclusion of its predecessor. Set in 1991, the movie mostly follows Caesar (Roddy McDowall), the primate son of Zira and Cornelius, as he leads the rebellion against humanity due to the terrible treatment of his species. Much like how the 2011 reboot, Caesar slowly builds an army of primates to eliminate their captors and replace their rule with a more peaceful, and ape-led civilization in which they are in control.
Battle For The Planet Of The Apes (Set In The Early 21st Century)
With the primates fully in control of Earth after most of humanity was wiped out in a global nuclear war, Caesar (Roddy McDowall) attempts to make a more peaceful civilization in which the two species can live harmoniously in the early 21st Century. The final film in the original franchise, Battle for the Planet of the Apes shares a lot of similarities with the second and third installments of the reboot series 40-plus years later, in that it is set in a world in which the two species co-exist to an extent. Like its predecessors, the 1973 film touches on themes like racism, war and peace, coexistence, and the negative effects of nuclear arms races.
Planet Of The Apes (Set In 3978)
Released in 1968, Planet of the Apes follows a group of three American astronauts led by George Taylor (Charlton Heston) as their spaceship crashes on what appears to be an alien planet. Upon exploring the mysterious location, the astronauts are captured by the planet’s rulers, a race of intelligent apes who have established a society not too unlike humanity back on Earth. Upon their capture, the astronauts find themselves being treated as an inferior species and subjected to physical, mental, and emotional abuse. During their imprisonment, the humans uncover dark truths of the foreign planet and one of the all-time great twist endings.
Beneath The Planet Of The Apes (Set In 3978)
The second film in the franchise (but last chronologically), Beneath the Planet of the Apes, not only deals with the fallout of the its predecessor in that it follows an astronaut named Brent (James Franciscus) as he hunts for the crew that came before him, it also dives deeper into the future Earth. This comes in the form of a subterranean society populated by humans whose ancestors gained telekinetic powers following a nuclear blast centuries earlier. The movie also sees the return of Charlton Heston’s Taylor from the original, though not as much as some would have liked.
Planet Of The Apes (2001)
Released in 2001, Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes remake shares a few similarities with the 1968 film of the same name but does make some changes to its story throughout its runtime. The film centers on Astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) who is transported to a mysterious planet after being sucked into a portal as he attempts to save a chimpanzee that’s on a space mission with him. Upon crashing on the world’s surface (this time a jungle instead of a desert), Leo is captured by hyper-intelligent chimpanzees and is held prisoner. Over the course of the story, Leo is saved by a sympathetic chimp named Air (Helena Bonham Carter) who helps him escape and mount a rebellion against the tyrannical General Thade (Tim Roth). And not to be outdone by the original’s twist ending, the 2001 remake ends in a rather peculiar fashion.
In 2011, the Planet of the Apes franchise was given new life in the form of a reboot series that would focus on the rise of Caesar, who was brought to life through the motion-capture performance of Andy Serkis, who also provided the voice of the intelligent chimp as he goes from a test subject to leader of the primate rebellion.
Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes (2011)
Released in 2011, Rise of the Planet of the Apes follows Dr. William “Will” Rodman (James Franco), a chemist who discovers a potential cure for Alzheimer’s disease (his father, played by John Lithgow is suffering from the effects of dementia) when testing the chemical compound known as ALZ-112 on chimpanzees. It is soon discovered that Caesar (Andy Serkis), who was exposed to the compound in his mother’s womb, is a sign of the chemical’s success as he becomes more and more intelligent. But not all good things can last and as ALZ-112 leads to aggression in its test subjects, leading to Will placing Caesar in captivity after eight years together. From there, Caesar rebels and forms an army of other primates who’ve grown tired of being mistreated by humans.
Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014)
Set years after the events of the first film in the reboot series, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is set in a world that has been ravaged by the primate rebellion as well as a pandemic that was caused by a similar, yet stronger and more volatile chemical compound. What’s left of humanity is hunkered down in small archaic communities with primates largely in control of their world outside humanity’s walls. These two worlds — Caesar leading the primates, Malcolm (Jason Clarke) leading the humans — are set on a collision course with disastrous results when cooler heads fail to win over their vengeful and power-hungry counterparts who want one thing and one thing only: the survival of their own species and the complete destruction of their enemies.
War For The Planet Of The Apes (2017)
The conclusion of the reboot trilogy, War for the Planet of the Apes was released in 2017 and follows Caesar as he and his tribe enter conflict with a rogue military outfit named Alpha-Omega. Over the course of the movie, Caesar and his camp go to war with Alpha-Omega and its leader Colonel J. Wesley McCullough (Woody Harrelson), who is obsessed with killing the intelligent leader and making humans the dominant species once again. Picking up where Dawn of the Planet of the Apes left off with Caesar’s personal journey, the third movie in the series sees the chimpanzee attempt to find peace and meaning in his life and the world around him.
Well, this should be more than enough to help you make sense of the Planet of the Apes movies and the franchise’s timeline. If and when we see a new reboot to the franchise remains to be seen, but for those looking to get caught up on the existing films, now’s as good a time as any to start. In the meantime check out what is left of CinemaBlend’s list of 2021 new movie releases or get an early start on all the 2022 movies we’ll be talking about in no time at all.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he’s not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.