Mr. MacDonald (Hari Rhodes in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)) was also meant to return, but after Rhodes refused, the character was changed to his brother, and Austin Stoker was cast.
Governor Breck from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) was originally planned to return as the villain, but Don Murray wasn't interested. However, Severn Darden was available to return, so Breck's former security chief Kolp was promoted to main villain.
The scenes of Ape City in this film were filmed at the Fox Ranch, now Malibu State Park. The interior scenes of the Dead City were filmed inside a waterworks plant, so when MacDonald points and says "This is...was...Eleventh Avenue", you can see they're surrounded by walls and are not standing on the remains of a street corner.
Roddy McDowall and Natalie Trundy are the only cast members to appear in four of the five original "Planet of the Apes" movies. McDowall appeared in all except the first sequel, unless you include the flashback at the beginning for which he received an uncredited appearance. Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970). Natalie Trundy did not appear in the Planet of the Apes (1968), but appeared in all four sequels. McDowall also starred in the television series Planet of the Apes (1974). William Beckley (the British newscaster on "Escape From the Planet of the Apes" (1971)) and Woodrow Parfrey (Dr. Maximus on "Planet of the Apes" (1968)) both appeared as chimpanzees on the series' pilot, and Bobby Porter (Cornelius on this film) appeared as a young chimp on two episodes.
All five original "Planet of the Apes" movies were #1 at the U.S. box office when released. "Battle for the Planet of the Apes" spent two weeks as the #1 top grossing film: the week of June 17, 1973 it made $4,864,355 and the week of June 24, 1973 it made $4,294,934.
Paul Dehn was supposed to have written the fifth installment in the series but was unable to do so for health reasons. Instead John William Corrington and Joyce Hooper Corrington were hired after the success of The Omega Man (1971). Joyce Corrington later admitted that she had never even seen an "Apes" movie before being hired to write the next one.
Director J. Lee Thompson was very unhappy about the budget limitations imposed on him. He had had to agree to direct the film before a final screenplay was in place.
Ironically, actor Lew Ayres - a well-known and vocal pacifist - was cast as Mandemus, an orangutan in charge of the armory. What's not so ironic is that Mandemus was ardent in being the only ape with a key, protecting the weapons from the warlike Gorillas who would misuse the guns for offense and not defense, for which they're intended.
This is supposedly the film that inspired Tony Mendez to create the operation "Argo" during the Iran hostage crisis from 1979 to 1981 in which he traveled to Iran in disguise as a film producer and had the hostages disguise as a film crew in order to flee the country. As such, a clip from the scene in which Caesar, MacDonald and Virgil arrive in the Forbidden City is shown in Argo (2012).
Paul Dehn had recovered from his bout of illness sufficiently to come in at the end of pre-production and do a re-write of the script. Although he rewrote about 90% and changed the ending, he was only given a Story credit by the Writers Guild of America.
20th Century Fox had already decided to move the franchise to television before the production began.
Producer Arthur P. Jacobs died days after the film's release.
Kolp (Severn Darden) is the only villain other than Dr. Zaius (Maurice Evans) to appear in more than one film in the series.
With no explanation given, the apes in this film have begun wearing the cloth-and-leather clothing from the first three films. As in those films, the chimpanzees wear green, orangutans wear orange (tan, actually), and gorillas wear black and maroon. Also in this film, all of the apes have the ability to speak, reason, and to a lesser extent read and write; in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), Caesar was the only talking ape except for Lisa saying (with considerable difficulty) "no".
Roddy McDowall (Caesar), Severn Darden (Governor Kolp) and Natalie Trundy (Lisa) are the only actors to reprise their roles from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972).
The previous entry - Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) - had incurred some criticism for being too violent. The intent with this sequel was that it should be more appealing to families and children in particular.
The film takes place in the early 21st Century and 2670.
The Irish alternative rock band Fight Like Apes took their name from Caesar's battle cry in the film, which they described as "notoriously bad."
During the battle at Ape City, there are many scenes of tree houses exploding in flames. In reality, due to budget constraints, only one tree house was blown up. However, this explosion was filmed from multiple angles. These shots were then divided and edited into multiple places in the finished film to give the illusion that many tree houses had been blown up.
Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) begins by letting us know the year is 1991. In this movie near the end Mandemus tells Caesar that the armory has been his home for 27 years (this contradicts one of Kolp's followers implying that the war ended 12 years ago). Depending on how long it took the apes to get out of the city and build their own armory this movie should take place sometime around 2018 or soon thereafter.
There's an intentional irony between Caesar and Aldo, other than one being a peaceful (until pushed) Chimpanzee and the other a warlike Gorilla: Aldo is named after the ape that led the revolt against humans in the original timeline while Caesar led the revolt in the second timeline.
Colleen Camp's film debut.
Discounting footage from Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972), Roddy McDowall (Caesar) does not appear until 13 minutes into the film.
The group of kids in the end was to have included a hybrid ape-human kid, symbolizing the two species coexistence in peace. A make-up test was made, but the idea was removed due to the obvious implications of beastiality.
In a pair of deleted scenes, Kolp instructed his aides, Alma and Mendez, to remain in the ruins of New York and activate the cobalt bomb (the same one seen on Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)) if his forces were defeated. Towards the end of the film, when Kolp and his men were in fact defeated, Alma then tried to follow Kolp's orders, but was stopped by Mendez who instead turned the bomb into a worship figure. Mendez is, of course, the first in the line to Beneath's Mendez XXVI. These scenes were included in the original television broadcast version, debuting on CBS in the mid-'70s, which was chopped down to an hour showing (51 minutes plus commercials), so ironically many other scenes were edited out. When this movie was repeated throughout the '70s and '80s (in its entirity), the two added scenes were included. However, when the film was released on video around 1990, the original theatrical version was used, where those scenes had been excised. At that point, only that version would be aired on television.
John William Corrington and Joyce Hooper Corrington's original ending had ape and human children playing together in a playground. They hated Paul Dehn's more portentous ending.
In Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) Cornelius said his people knew that dumb apes had once served human masters, until the apes revolted under a defiant leader named Aldo. That film's sequels (Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) and this film) carefully edit Cornelius' comments to omit the name of Aldo, and leave the implication that Caesar is the revolutionary leader. This film includes a central character named Aldo, but is set after the ape revolution, and clearly that Aldo is not the one Cornelius referred to.
At the end, when the apes are chanting "Ape has killed Ape", some of them are saying "Aldo has killed Ape".
Interpretation #1. The five movies in this series are a loop, forming one time line. The legacy of Caesar after his death is preserved by an orangutan known as "The Lawgiver", played by John Huston in Battle. Afterward, the orangutans become the learned politicians and religious leaders of ape society, revering the memory of The Lawgiver in statues after Caesar has been forgotten. The plot of Planet of the Apes (1968) hinges on orangutans teaching apes a false history of the world and erasing knowledge that humankind was once the dominant species of Earth. Interpretation #2. The series presents an altered time line. The arrival of Cornelius and Zira to the past in Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), and Caesar's actions in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) have changed history, so that the events of Planet 1968 and Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970) will not happen in Battle's future. The Icarus, containing Taylor and his crew, is still out in space, and may get a more agreeable reception when they land on the planet.