In the last nine weeks, only three new new releases managed to top the box office: 'The Help,' 'Contagion' and 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes.' ('The Lion King 3D' was a reissue; this weekend's champ 'Dolphin Tale' was in week two.) Of the three, 'Apes' was the biggest hit with audiences, grossing an estimated $174 million domestically and another $234 million overseas. With returns like that it seems possible Twentieth Century Fox will want to bring the franchise back for another chapter -- which is why at least one major character didn't actually die at film's conclusion. Spoilers, obviously.

At the Visual Effects Society Production Summit in Beverly Hills on Sunday, Fox postproduction president Ted Gagliano revealed that director Rupert Wyatt and the 'Apes' filmmaking team thought James Franco's lead character should perish at the end of 'Rise.' In fact, the ending made it as far as July 4 before reshoots were done. "We shot for three hours and [Franco] was back on the plane," Gagliano said. The film opened one month later with the new conclusion.

Check out the theatrical ending of 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' on YouTube by clicking here; The Playlist has pages of an early draft which features Franco's character's death.

[via THR]