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How to watch Planet of the Apes movies in order – the actual chronological timeline

It's not our planet anymore...

caeser planet apes

After a failed attempt at rebooting The Planet of the Apes franchise from the ground up back in 2001, the series is more popular and successful than ever thanks to the recent prequel trilogy that was far better than many of us expected it to be.

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But those movies, unlike Tim Burton’s, do not undo anything that we have already seen and instead fitted neatly into the already established timeline – well until the film concluded and asserted this timeline is different that is.

So if you want to watch all the movies, there are two ways to go about it and we have broken them down for you below. Which will you choose to go for, you dirty apes?

The Planet of the Apes movies: order of release

planet of apes

The release order keeps things simple and doesn’t have any confusion over where to watch the 2001 reboot. You’ll start with the planet already overrun by the apes and work through the original before jumping back to the prequel trilogy to see how it all began.

It is a good way to view it all, particularly as the 60s’ movies do look, as expected, dated now, plus it will leave you at the right place for when the next movie comes along that is expected to take place after the most recently released one.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

Where it all began back in the late 60s, Planet of the Apes remains a fantastic watch even 42 years after it first came out. Sure, the killer twist at the end is not so killer anymore with it being almost as ingrained in pop culture as Luke’s father reveal in Star Wars, but that doesn’t detract from how entertaining this is. A cinematic feat at the time, this is still a brilliant introduction to the ape filled world that was created and by far the best movie in the original run.

Read our full review

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

Beneath the Planet of the Apes is a strange one. Star of the first movie, Charlton Heston was killed off at his own request but instead of just offing him to build a new status quo,  the writers took things a few hundred steps further by nuking the world and writing themselves into a bit of a hole when it came to continuing the story. Beneath is not a bad movie, but it is often dull and the issues with it do outweigh the good that it does – and there is some decent stuff here.

Read our full review

Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

How do you solve a problem like nuking the world your franchise takes place in? Time travel of course. Escape from the Planet of the Apes is the silliest of the lot with three apes hopping back to the 1970s’ and finding that talking apes are quite the oddity in this time. Yet the writers take the subject matter relatively seriously and, somehow, it sort of works and it is an entertaining, and strangely realistic in its depiction, third film.

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 Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

The premise for this penultimate movie in the original timeline is not the best – despite having some moments. Cats and dogs have now been wiped out by a pandemic (which is perhaps the most depressing thing that could happen) and humans, in need of pets/slaves, turn to the apes to fill the role. Caesar and his ape friends do not take kindly to this and riot against the humans to try and build a new society. There are flashes of a decent film here, but it does continue the downward spiral that would only get worse with the fifth one.

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Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

It’s a good job that the series has returned to the big screen in better shape than ever as the original series of movies did not end the franchise on a high – far from it. A definite low point, Battle for the Planet of the Apes was an almost total misfire which is a shame as the new set up could have been interesting. Apes rule the roost now and humans are now the second class citizens, but whatever spark the franchise had was lost at this point and the subsequent 27-year break was probably wise and needed.

Read our full review

Buy the original Planet of the Apes movies on Blu-Ray for £11.53 on Amazon.

Planet of the Apes (2001)

While not quite as bad as its reputation may suggest, Tim Burton’s Mark Wahlberg starring reboot was certainly a misfire overall and it remains an oddity in the franchise that has no place in the timeline the others all reside in. There are moments that work here, but they are few and far between and to learn that two of the writers here also wrote Superman IV: The Quest for Peace comes as no surprise – at least it wasn’t that bad.

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Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

After a ten year break from the franchise, it returned with style in the James Franco starring, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Set while the Earth was as we know it and depicting the origin of the pandemic (sorry to use that word again) that wiped out most of humanity, this is a fantastic start for the new trilogy with Caesar’s rise to power and freedom expertly done. And this trilogy only gets better from here.

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Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Jumping ahead in time from where we left off in Rise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes builds on that first movie in the prequel trilogy and expands on it – delivering a film that is as compelling as it is action-packed. There are some good human characters here with the always dependable Jason Clark leading the pack, but the real meat of the story lies with the apes themselves. The rivalry and building tension between Caesar and Kobe is riveting stuff and it all builds to a stunning climax that sets up the third film perfectly.

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War For the Planet of the Apes (2014)

The final movie to be released so far is a stunning watch and while all three of the rebooted movies are stellar, this may be the best of the bunch with a fantastic plot and a devastating, yet hopeful ending, that not only sets up future stories but still gets us emotional when we think about it. Not only one of the best movies in the franchise, but a contender for one of the best movies of 2017 – it really is that good.

Read our full review

You can buy The Planet of the Apes trilogy in 4K at Amazon, or you can pick up the standard Blu-Ray set.

The Planet of the Apes timeline: chronological order 

Keeping in mind that the rebooted trilogy has diverged into its own timeline, it still works to watch these in this order even if you will spot some, fairly major, inconsistencies when you get to the original movies.

  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)
  • War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
  • Planet of the Apes (1968)
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
  • Escape From the Planet of the Apes (1971)
  • Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
  • Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1974)

That just leaves the 2001 failed reboot. You can either watch that after the 1969 Planet of the Apes to see the differences between the two, or save it until the end as a bonus watch. Being a full-on reboot, it is the only movie in the series not to have a set place in the timeline to put it – so the choice is yours as to where you think it will fit best.

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