While Arnold Schwarzenegger is primarily known as an action movie star, he’s always had a good mix of comedies in there – going back to his hey-day in the late 1980s and 1990s. Kicking off his comedy career with 1988’s Twins, he would go onto make the action-comedies Last Action Hero and True Lies, as well as the comedy movies Kindergarten Cop, Junior, and the classic Christmas movie Jingle all the Way.
Jingle all the Way’s fate is surprisingly tied in with a franchise that could not be more different – Planet of the Apes. There are two main Apes franchises – the one that ran for five movies from 1968-1973, and the highly critically-acclaimed reboot trilogy that ran from 2011-2017. A fourth Apes movie is apparently on the way in 2024.
It’s now easy to forget that there’s another Apes movie that stood all alone, and came out in 2001 – it’s the one directed by Tim Burton and starring Mark Wahlberg. This one had been in development hell since 1988, and Schwarzenegger was tapped to star in 1994, and at various stages – Harry Potter director Chris Columbus and Avatar director James Cameron (who’d obviously worked with Arnie on Terminator) – were both attached.
So how are Jingle all the Way and Planet of the Apes intertwined? According to a 1996 article from Entertainment Weekly, the timeline went as follows:
In 1994, Oliver Stone (of all people) tapped Arnold Schwarzenegger to star, with Stone to produce (not direct). In the meantime, Fox called for rewrites because they wanted something more comedic. In 1995, Schwarzenegger approved director Philip Noyce (Patriot Games). Stone was ready to proceed with a $100 million budget — but Fox was still unhappy with the script.
Noyce then committed to develop The Saint movie (with Val Kilmer). Fox brought aboard director Chris Columbus who rewrote the script. James Cameron entered the mix as another possible producer. Schwarzenegger went off to make Eraser with director Chuck Russell, who was once in the running to helm Apes. Cameron ended up passing on Apes in late 1995. Chris Columbus also exited Apes and signed on to direct Jingle All the Way with – surprise! – Schwarzenegger.
Peter Jackson is another director who came close to tackling Apes, but he ultimately decided to go with King Kong instead. Given how many writers, producers, and directors were involved with the 2001 version of Planet of the Apes at one time or another, it’s hardly surprising that it was something of a critical disaster. It did still make $360 million, however, so wasn’t a total right-off. While we wait for more news about the forthcoming Apes movie, check out our guide to the best monster movies.