James Franco is about to put his ridiculously high cheekbones to good use according to Deadline. The actor has landed the lead in 20th Century Fox’s prequel to Planet of the Apes entitled, Rise of the Apes. Franco has been in negotiations with the film’s producers over the past week and has just closed the deal. Move over Charlton Heston, there’s a new man in town.

Rise of the Apes will center on the technology that was used to create the super-human, hyper-intelligent apes. It sounds like we’ll see what it was that specifically caused humans to become inferior to the primates and the science behind it. The script was written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver who also serve as producers on the film.

Production on Rise of the Apes is scheduled to begin on July 5th, and will be directed by Rupert Wyatt. Fox has already set the film’s release date for June 24, 2011. Next summer is going to be pretty busy when you factor in all the superhero movies hitting theaters, and now the Apes franchise wants to rise from the ashes (no pun intended) after a 10 year hiatus!

Franco is a talented actor but he’s obviously not the brawny type like Heston or even Mark Wahlberg who starred in the 2001 remake. Perhaps he’ll play the quiet, intelligent type who becomes ridiculously hot halfway through the movie?

What do you think of Franco’s casting in Rise of the Apes?