James Franco Leads the ‘Rise of the Apes’

James Franco is everywhere this week. First he joins the Summit Entertainment produced comedy Ricky Stanicky, and now he’s adding something quite big to his upcoming slate, Fox’s Planet of the Apes franchise reboot.

According to Deadline, the former Freaks and Geeks star is in negotiations to join Rise of the Apes, the Rupert Wyatt-directed prequel to the Apes franchise. The film is “set in contemporary San Francisco, where a genetic engineering experiment leads to the creation of intelligence in apes, causing an inevitable conflict between species.”

Also according to Deadline — and perhaps just as interesting as Franco joining the cast — is news that Peter Jackson’s WETA Digital will be working on the special effects. It will be interesting to see how ape effects by WETA differ from those we saw from Industrial Light and Magic in Tim Burton’s 2001 remake of Planet of the Apes.

Beyond that, Franco’s a solid choice for just about any major project at the moment. His stock is steadily rising and he’s got range. Once we know what kind of a role he’ll be playing in the film, things will be a bit more clear, but for now I can’t see any problem with his involvement in such a film. With a June 24, 2011 release date, Rise of the Apes will likely be one of the bigger tentpoles of next summer, putting Franco in a good spot to be one of next year’s big stars. He also stars in Your Highness, which is due out in April.

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet.

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