How ‘Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes’ Production Designer Daniel Dorrance Built a Beached Ship the Size of a Football Field
May 17, 2024

Written by Jazz Tangcay

“Kingdom of the Planet of the Apes” begins 300 years after “War of the Planet of the Apes.” Apes are the superior beings after the majority of humans have been wiped out. The story follows Owen Teague as Noa, a young chimpanzee who is forced on a journey of self-discovery after his village comes under attack.

Production designer Daniel T. Dorrance needed to create two contrasting worlds: Eagle Clan, Noa’s home, a paradise-like village filled with greenery and peace. Plus, the production called for a harsher metallic world for Proxiumus Caesar, the ape who has kidnapped Noa’s mother and friends. “Nature takes over after a certain point, so how green would it be? What would a skyscraper look like? And I still wanted to give the audience something to recognize,” says Dorrance as he imagined a post-apocalyptic world.

Dorrance found an ideal location in New South Wales, Australia for Eagle Clan. He found a place that had an escarpment with a canyon wall behind it. Dorrance built a power tower and Eagle’s nest from wood and filled it with green and brown to create Eagle Clan’s paradise village setting.

Once the village comes under attack from a group of apes, Noa is forced to leave the safe space of his village and go in search of his family. All his life, he’s told not to enter a tunnel, it’s called the “Forbidden Zone,” but now, with his father dead and his family in need of rescuing he had to break all the rules. As he travels on horseback, he sees a city in ruins. Dorrance built a lot of the abandoned city sets, but then Weta FX stepped in, adding set extensions and scale to the background.

From there Noa journeys onwards to Proximus Caesar’s kingdom. The seaside setting was a callback to the original “Planet of the Apes.”

The kingdom is next to an abandoned military base, a vault that Proximus believes is filled with technology left behind by humans and holds the answer to the future – if only he can get inside.

Proximus Caesar’s kingdom is metal-themed, and his castle is a beached freight ship. Dorrance built the beached freight ship which sits near the water and was the size of a football field by length and width. “I built all the elements they interact with so that they come out of the side of the ship. I built 80 feet of the ship with the portal and big ramp coming down, so you could pan around and see the exterior of the bunker. I built the doorway and the concrete elements as you make your way around,” Dorrance explains, adding that it took 20 weeks to build. “It was a massive scale set.”

Director Wes Ball wanted there to be as much in-camera filming as possible, so Dorrance made sure the environments were real since there was heavy CG to transform the actors.

Dorrance adds, “The ship had sharp ends, shards, and rusty metals. You even see it on the rusty metals, the costumes and the armor. The idea was the apes took the ship apart and are using it for weapons, and built the levee from that metal.”

In contrast to Eagle Clan, this world was rusty red and harsh. “There was nothing soft about it. Wes likes to say, ‘This is the Bronze age,” says Dorrance.

Link to Original Article​