Dawn of the Planet of the Apes continues to dominate the box office, and rightly so: It's impressed critics (including our own), and has safely crowned itself a summer blockbuster, raking in nearly $140 million at the domestic box office.
The film follows the familiar human vs. ape conflict the franchise has explored through seven previous films, but this installment also features a memorable look at the evolving apes and the diminished human population, using sets conceived by production designer James Chinlund.
Chinlund talked to The Wire about how he illustrated the core conflict, from placing the Ape Village atop a mountain in Muir Woods to embedding the humans inside an incomplete skyscraper in San Francisco. Along with concept art released in the companion book Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: The Art of the Films, Chinlund explains how the sets aimed not only to contrast the rival factions' situations, but also to demonstrate their parallels. Here, he talks designing the homes, his most challenging set, and how he used San Francisco:
The Ape Village
As we were evolving the language for the Ape architecture, we were trying to walk a line between showing intelligence but not pushing them so far ahead that it felt implausible. We played with the idea that as the Apes moved higher into the mountain their building techniques evolved as well, starting at the bottom with cruder forms and finishing in the courtyard with a primitive nautilus form.