James Franco to star in ‘Planet of the Apes’ prequel

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After James Franco checks into General Hospital for another guest appearance on the daytime soap opera, the actor will star in the Planet of the Apes prequel Rise of the Apes, reports Variety.

Director Rupert Wyatt (The Escapist) chose Franco for the role as a scientist caught in the war between humans and apes. In this version, set in modern-day San Francisco, the origin story centers on the effects of genetic engineering which leads to the development of intelligent apes who revolt.

Rise of the Apes will feature photo-realistic apes created digitally instead of actors in costumes. Production begins filming July 5 and is scheduled for release June 24, 2011.

The story, adapted from a French novel by Pierre Boulle, was first filmed in 1968 starring Charlton Heston with four sequels. It was rebooted by Tim Burton in 2001 with Mark Wahlberg and Tim Roth.

In a series of interesting and unconventional choices for films, Franco just signed on for a quirky comedy, Ricky Stanicky. The actor recently appeared in Date Night with Steve Carrel and Howl about poet Allen Ginsburg. He will co-star in the summer's romantic comedy Eat Pray Love with Julia Roberts, Danny Boyle's drama 127 Hours, and the fantasy Your Highness.