Given that the original Planet of the Apes film series features time travel both ways and some later films tie back to the first film in the series, in what order should I watch the films?

Is it better to watch the films in release order or chronological order?

I have not seen all of the original film series, but do know the general premise.

  • 6
    In my opinion, the answer to this question should always be "the order in which they were made." Jul 17, 2017 at 17:29
  • 2
    in this particular case, "The order in which they were made, and only the first two." But yeah, there's no way to answer that unless you're specifically asking for something like "If I wanted to watch the Ape movies in chronological order..." Jul 17, 2017 at 17:41
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    Personally, I don't understand the desire to watch a franchise in anything other than the order in which they were first released. I mean, maybe if you've seen them a hundred times before and you feel like experimenting, sure. But first time? Just watch them in order already!
    – Steve-O
    Jul 17, 2017 at 17:46
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    My recommended order is: 1. Planet of the Apes (1968).
    – Buzz
    Jul 17, 2017 at 18:49
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1 Answer 1


(note - this answer ignores the Tim Burton re-make)

There are four ways of viewing the PotA series (including the modern re-tellings). Each one will, essentially, track the story of a character or a theme:

Option 1: Production order [the story of Cornelius]

Option 2: Chronological-Retro [the story of the planet]

Option 3: Semi-Chronological-Limited [the story of Taylor]

Option 4: Chronological-Modern [the story of Caesar]

Option 5: Comprehensive-Destiny [you can't escape the ape] (kind of a joke answer ;)

The Story of Cornelius:

Introduces Cornelius, Zira, and his family and follows their journey through space/time in a linear / timey-wimey fashion

  • Planet of the Apes

  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes

  • Escape from Planet of the Apes

  • Conquest of the Planet of the Apes

  • Battle for the Planet of the Apes


The original story of the planet in as linear a fashion as possible:

  • Escape from the Planet of the Apes
  • Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
  • Battle for the Planet of the Apes
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes


The story of Taylor - with no history on the origin of the planet:

  • Planet of the Apes
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes


Revised history of the story of Caesar [remains to be seen if current series will directly link to the original PotA but, this list assumes that is the intention given WftPotA film]:

  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • War for the Planet of the Apes
  • The Planet of the Apes
  • Beneath the Planet of the Apes
  • [at this point - uncertainty if the 'Cornelius' arc should be employed]

** Comprehensive-Destiny **

In which retro and modern are combined to produce a time loop demonstrating that the planet was meant / doomed no matter what timeline shenanigans happen

Notes on Production order:

1) The primary reveal at the end of the original Planet of the Apes film is one of the most iconic and referenced endings in science fiction. To watch the films 'out of order' in relation to production is to remove the underlying mystery of the original. That being said, this is really only a consideration for somebody entirely unfamiliar with the work. Dramatic irony, of course, is always at play but there is something to be said for that first time 'ah!' moment

note on the answer - this could be more detailed with plot points probably (but would require spoiler tags) - may do so as I have time, or if it is used as a starting point, happy to convert to Community

  • Whoa! well done, so much detail but I would suggest your Cornelius choice as the most complete!!
    – riccs_0x
    Jul 17, 2017 at 23:22
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    +1 This is a better answer than the one in the Movies & TV forum. movies.stackexchange.com/questions/50615/…
    – RichS
    Jul 18, 2017 at 0:11
  • wow - thanks @RichS!
    – NKCampbell
    Jul 18, 2017 at 1:09

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