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Fox Makes Director Shortlist for ‘Apes’ Sequel

20th Century Fox has definitively confirmed director Rupert Wyatt's exit from Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the sequel to the 2011 smash Rise of the Planet of the Apes, by creating a new director shortlist.

Wyatt left the project supposedly due to time constraints, but if this shortlist is any indication, no one will miss him. Deadline has the mighty list that includes Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In), who sits as the favorite, J Blakeson (The Disappearance of Alice Creed), Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (28 Weeks Later ...), Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter), Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage) and even Guillermo del Toro. Looper director Rian Johnson is on Deadline's list, but his reps say he's not in the mix.

Reeves (above) just left the helm of The Twilight Zone movie, which either makes "Dawn" a great fit or a terrible one. His interest in darker subject matters certainly makes him an intriguing fit for this kind of a blockbuster.

Speaking of darker, if this list tells us anything about the script from Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver and Scott Z. Burns, it's that we're looking at a film with a bit of a fear factor, or at least creepy paranoia and suspense. Fresnadillo, del Toro and Bayona especially indicate as much. Of those three, Bayona would be the most viable as Fresnadillo is at work on the Highlander reboot and del Toro is always at work on something. Bayona's latest film, The Impossible, a disaster drama about the 2004 tsunami, comes out in December.

Whichever director gets the keys, he'll have to feel comfortable jumping onto a project that has had some serious pre-production already done and be ready to do extensive motion-capture and visual effects work. That alone suggests Nichols and Blakeson wouldn't be interested, so Fox would be wise to really gun for Reeves. Either way, the quality of the list can only be considered a good sign.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes has a release scheduled for May 23, 2014.


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