Gary Oldman and Andy Serkis joined Dawn of The Planet Of The Apes director Matt Reeves for a post-screening Q&A in Hollywood on Monday night (June 30).

The movie picks up 10 years or so after 2011’s Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes left off as Caesar presides over a simian society that lives in uneasy proximity to human survivors in the wake of a devastating virus.

Reeves told an audience at TCL Chinese Theaters how when he was approached to direct the sequel the producers did not anticipate such a large role for Caesar. However the filmmaker was insistent that the heroic ape be front and centre.

Dawn marked the first time Reeves had worked in motion-capture, but besides the boffins at effects house Weta Digital there was a certain someone else with a lot of experience in that department.

“The first thing I did,” said Reeves, “was I asked for footage of Andy [Serkis] from Rise doing his mo-cap in his unitard and then I watched the film with Caesar.”

He continued, “After five minutes of seeing the actors in unitards with head cameras it actually works.”

On the subject of apes on horseback – an image that harks back to the 1968 classic Planet Of The Apes – Serkis said the actors playing apes took riding lessons dressed as the beasts so as not to alarm the horses.

“It is interesting seeing animals using other animals as transport,” he said, raising a laugh. “It doesn’t happen very often.” Which would explain why when Caesar roars “Go” atop his equine carrier, Serkis said the horses freaked out.

The sequence when the apes ride their horses into battle with humans is the kind of thing summer blockbusters are made of. Yet Reeves had other ideas.

“I wanted you to feel sadly about it,” he said. “[It was] something terrible… a fever dream.”

The nuances of the story are what hooked Oldman, too. “[nThe script] was a surprising read because it was about family and community and loss and passion. It wasn’t what I expected.”

The screening and Q&A were hosted by Hero Complex and Dolby Atmos.

Fox unleashes Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes on July 11.