Andy Serkis “deserves an Academy Award,” declared Matt Reeves tonight at a special War for the Planet of the Apes presentation at New York Comic-Con. “He’s an incredible, incredible actor,” added the director with Serkis and producer Dylan Clark by his side.

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“It has been the most psychologically intense and physically challenging part of this arc, Serkis himself said of the still in post production film, that is set to be released by Fox on July 14 next year. “It was a very testing and very ambitious project,” Serkis told the NYCC crowd. “It is our biggest movie,” noted Clark of the latest pic in the rebooted franchise, while also emphasizing the emotional aspect of the picture for Serkis’ Caesar character. The security heavy presentation tonight comes the same day that the July 14, 2017 released pic also dropped a nearly 1-minute teaser.

Taking place two-years after the events of 2014’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had ended, as Reeves told tonight’s audience, War finds the increasingly dominant apes in pitched battle in the woods with the humans led by a harsh and extreme Colonel played by Woody Harrelson. It also finds a conflicted Caesar shifting to a more segregated sense of the divide between the apes and mankind and finding himself now agreeing with his old bonobo nemesis Koba from the Dawn film. “Watching Woody and Andy slugging it out on set was very exciting,” Clark asserted. “He is an incredibly actor, a phenomenal actor Woody, he really is,” said Serkis of his on-screen enemy. “Caesar and the Colonel are kind of drawn to each other …there’s this bizarre connection.”

Throughout the packed panel, Fox showed about 10-minutes total of footage from and about the latest Apes sequel plus a new teaser trailer. The first footage displayed was a short featurette on Serkis repeating his role of head ape Caesar and his genre changing performance capture outfit working on the film. The second bit of the film that the trio showed unfinished and rawly animated clip, that showed Serkis’ character with the Karin Konoval played orangutan Maurice leading a group of gun wielding apes on a raid on a human compound and their discovery of a seemingly mute girl – a clip the crowd showed their appreciation of with loud applause.

Beginning in darkness and with audio of a failed military attack on Caesar’s life and ending with a ruthless Harrelson, the less than two-minute long new teaser highlighted the scale of the fight between the now sworn enemies.

The new Apes follows the initial 2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes reboot of the 1960/1970s franchise and its Dawn of the Planet of the Apes sequel. Reeves also directed the Dawn film and Clark was also a producer on that film as he was on the 2011 Rupert Wyatt helmed pic.

Thursday’s event in a movie theater just off Times Square honored that long held Comic-con tradition of planting marketing seeds early to build anticipation. Then again when your last Apes film two-years ago grossed over $710 million globally, there’s definitely a big audience out there – as Fox is betting on next summer.