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Usually Hollywood’s arch-nemesis, PETA is actively supporting 20th Century Fox’s Rise of the Planet of the Apes, since no real simians are used in the film.
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Instead, the movie—which opens in theaters Friday—relies on cutting-edge performance capture created by Peter Jackson’s WETA Digital to portray the apes. Andy Serkis plays Caesar, the lead ape and the story’s central character.
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The animal-rights org even went so far as to bestow Rupert Wyatt, director of Apes, with the Proggy Award, given annually to animal-friendly companies, people and products. And the movie itself has been given PETA’s official seal of approval.
The Proggy was announced earlier this week, just days after members of PETA showed up at the Apes’ premiere in Los Angeles, happily waving placards, “Real Apes Love CGI.”
Generally speaking, if PETA shows up at a premiere, it’s out of protest, not support. Recent films that have came under attack by the organization include Sony’s Zookeeper, Paramount’s Rango and Warner Bros.’ The Hangover Part II.
PETA took aim at Zookeeper in September 2009 when reports surfaced that a giraffe died shortly after shooting ended. Sony and director Frank Coraci denied any mistreatment, saying animal humane representatives were always present on set, but PETA continued to call for a boycott of the film.
In the case of Rango, PETA initially supported the computer-animated film, since there were no really reptiles used. But when Paramount partnered with PetSmart to offer a $10 discount on any reptile to customers who provided a Rango ticket stub, PETA lashed out, calling the promotion “ill-conceived and irresponsible.”
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“This movie is being marketed to children, who may be intrigued by possessing a reptile but who are far from equipped to humanely care for one,” read a PETA statement.
Hangover II sparked ire for scenes showing a monkey smoking, while PETA was fuming when the monkey was dressed in a frock and paraded on the red carpet at one of the premieres.
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PETA is hopeful that the technological advancements in Rise of the Planet of the Apes will encourage other studios to stop using real animals as well.
“Rupert [Wyatt] explained that a big theme of this movie is humanity’s mistreatment and abuse of captive apes,” PETA said in a statement announcing the Proggy. “Apes are the heroes of this film, and humans are the villains—and Rupert said he couldn’t imagine a worse way of undercutting that message than by using real apes in the movie’s production.”
Rise of the Planet of the Apes was produced by Chernin Entertainment, and also stars James Franco, Frida Pinto, Tom Feltman and John Lithgow.
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