When apes ruled the box office…

2018 marks the 50-year anniversary of the film “Planet of the Apes”, starring Charlton Heston. It may surprise you to know that Heston had the flu during part of the production, but it didn’t hinder his performance. The “behind the scenes” facts of the film are quite interesting. And like many of Hollywood’s biggest movies, weather played a major role.


To aid in the surreal mood of the movie, filmmakers scouted locations around the stark landscapes of Lake Powell (along the Utah/Arizona border). The setting provided stunning vistas epic in scale, but also produced a great deal of heat. The script called for many stunts and physicality, and the searing temperatures really took a toll on the cast and crew.

The heat was also detrimental to the “ape” make-up used on set, forcing multiple takes (and changing cosmetic appliances).  In fact, over 15% of the film’s budget was devoted to make-up effects. At lunchtime, costumed actors often ate with the use of mirrors (to monitor for any smudges/”shifts” in the make-up).

The movie also contains a few throwaway atmospheric moments. For example, consider the “lightning” which appears in the absence of storm clouds near the beginning of the film. It’s never really explained, but looks suitably “alien” and adds to the mystique of the story.  “Planet of the Apes” remains popular even after 50 years, continuing to entertain science fiction fans.

 Chief Meteorologist Jerry Jackson

(images courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

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