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The Publicity Stunt
|What the Heck is Project A.P.E.?|
Short answer: a publicity stunt.
But you came here for a longer answer...
In May of 2001, 20th Century Fox, was preparing to release its summer blockbuster, “Planet of the Apes.” They wanted a publicity stunt, and saw that computer geeks everywhere seemed to be flocking to this new hobby, Geocaching. To try and capatalize on this potential market, Fox Studios formulated a “sub-plot” that had absolutely nothing to do with the movie: Renegade humans were trying to reveal an “Alternative Primate Evolution” theory by placing artifacts around the world. Code Name: Project A.P.E.
In other words, Fox Studios was placing movie artifacts in Geocaches. First ones there get the best trinkets.
Coming Attractions broke the news of the publicity event, with this text...
|May 26, 2001...|
20th Century Fox has launched a really unique promotion for its Planet of the Apes film: using global positioning satellite (GPS) technology, fans can get involved in an interactive scavenger hunt search for hidden caches of props that were used in the film. The first person to successfully find out the location of the cache and reach it will get to keep the authentic prop!
Fox is calling this contest "Project A.P.E." (www.projectape.com -- the A.P.E. standing for "Alternative Primate Evolution"), and officially launched it yesterday. Using the new online gaming technology called Geocaching, every Friday the film's Official website will supply new coordinates which can be used to determine the location of the latest hidden cache. The contest will run for 13 weeks, allowing a lucky thirteen individuals the chance to be the first to walk away with the exclusive Apes goodies. For those of you who don't have GPS system right now, every Friday the website will also give away a Garmin eTrex GPS unit to a randomly selected winner.
There's also some hidden clues embedded in the Project A.P.E. game that, we're told, are important to the film's storyline. These secrets will "unlock long-hidden secrets that could present a clue to our past - or a key to our future," said the studio.
This week's operation is called "Devil's Spoon" and is located in California at the coordinates N 37° 50.759 W 121° 56.041. You can view maps and discover clues about the location of the cache by visiting the Project A.P.E. website, as well as finding out what was in the cache when its eventually discovered. Remember, if you missed out on this week's hunt, every Friday a new location will be announced for the next three months!
Fox was VERY secretive about the process, but what we as cachers saw was very cool. A vague clue would show up: It is hidden in a state that starts with an 'I', 'T' or a 'K'. There would also be a map (left).A week later a second clue would appear: It is hidden in a state that borders a large body of water. There would also be a newly refined map (right).
Finally, the last page would be released and the coordinates were given. The idea was to see who would get there first and claim the special prize out of the cache box.Most of the items appeared to be lesser known or seen items from the movie: a torch, leather blinds to shield human's eyes, a knife, etc. Not very expensive stuff, but interesting conversation pieces. There were also T-shirts (I got one for my endeavors as a placer) and trading cards.
Behind the Scenes: One Agent’s Story
Mission 12: Blind Canal
I was watching these caches like crazy, just waiting for one to show up within driving distance. I just barely missed one, as Mission 10a: River Bearer was placed in Georgia on July 27, 2001 around 1:00 p.m. - literally two hours after I was in the area and had started heading back to home in Illinois.
In early August, I received an e-mail from Jeremy Irish, CEO of Groundspeak, and webmaster of Geocaching.com. He indicated that Fox was hoping to place one of the Project APE caches in the Chicago area, but they needed a local placer. Jeremy thought of me, because of my extensive and long-standing activity level in Geocaching.
To say I was honored would be a vast understatement. I immediately started a conversation with Sarah at Fox Studios about placement and cache size, getting instructions from her. She had indicated that she hoped it would be placed close to the downtown area so as to maximize participation. However, I knew that the closer toward the city we placed the cache, the more chance it would have of being plundered.
I finally narrowed it down to 3 locations: Hickory Creek Forest Preserve, Matthiessen State Park and McKinley Woods Forest Preserve. Matthiessen was too far out for Sarah's taste, and having placed Cachiversary 1: Forget-Me-Nots, I would have to agree that it was a little too far. Hickory Creek seemed to have the reputation of a heavily travelled path, meaning that it could be easily plundered. Having found Fox’s Lair, I would concur. So, McKinley Woods it was.
On Monday, August 6, I received word from Sarah that the cache was to be released on August 10. She would Fed-Ex the cache container, completely full, to my house. I took Tuesday afternoon off of work so I could place the cache. Unfortunately, the Fed-Ex guy didn't arrive until almost 2:30, leaving me very little time for placement and still being able to pick up the boys at a reasonable time. Couple that with the enormous size of the container. This was a 60mm ammo can: 16½" tall by 11" wide by 6" across with Project A.P.E. stampted on it. I had quite a job lugging that thing through the forest, hoping that no one would see me.
How appropriate that Rob Reindl who placed the oldest surviving Geocache in the Chicago area (Beverly) would be the first to find this cache. There was a flurry of finds that weekend, and the cache has brought others in a steady stream. Everyone seems to be commenting on the sheer size of the box, and the good placement.
After the First Find
We were to keep secret, for a while, who placed the cache. I knew people would think that I would definitely try to be the first one to find the APE cache, so I made up some story about how I couldn't POSSIBLY get out of work on the Friday to get there. I went out on the Sunday and "found" it - later changing my find to a note after it had scrolled off the page.
There is one person who was “in the know” the day the cache was placed. Dr Spyro, a good friend of mine, asked if we could find the cache together on Friday, August 10. I told him that I couldn't make it due to kids. He said I should get a babysitter for this “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity. So I broke down and told him that because I placed the cache, I couldn't be the first to find it. I did lend him my etrex though, but he ended up not using it and found it on the Sunday after release, right before I “found” it. I actually did go out and find the thing, so I could sign the logbook and go through the pretenses of finding it. It also allowed me to check the coordinates.
Since then, Jeremy has indicated that Fox has basically disappeared from the scene. So I officially adopted Mission 12: Blind Canal, but left all the Project APE references.
Project APE's website is no longer active. Jeremy has indicated that Fox has pretty much abandoned any involvement. In June of 2003, Jeremy also indicated that he would be rolling all of the current caches still listed as "PROJECT APE" caches into traditional caches.
What happens to the Project APE caches that are still around? When I asked this question to Jeremy, he indicated he's looking for people to adopt the remaining caches. I, of course, adopted the one I placed. But what of the others? As of the original writing of this page, I was the only one to adopt an APE cache. Some have been adopted, some have not.
Google Earth KML file of the APE caches
|Here's the direct links to as many APE caches as I could find:
| Mission 1: Devil’s Spoon, California, USA
| Mission 2: Club Suave, Oregon, USA
| Mission 3: Grahm’s Link, New York, USA - now called "Return of the Planet of the Apes"
| Mission 4: Southern Bowl, Brazil|
NEW! - See maps of the area: Continent, Region and 3D Aerial.
| Mission 5: Fork in the Canyon, California, USA
| Mission 6: Asian Arms, Japan
| Mission 7: Crab Creek, Maryland, USA
| Mission 8: Wattle’s Edge, Australia
| Special Mission: PLANET OF THE APES Premiere!, New York
| Mission 9: Tunnel of Light, Washington, USA **Archived June 2011
| Mission 10a: River Bearer, Georgia, USA
| Mission 10b: Meridian Snake, United Kingdom
| Mission 11: Tallow's Sand, New South Wales, Australia
| Mission 12: Blind Canal, Illinois, USA
||There had been talk about a Mission 13, but I cannot find any record of it. Apparently, Mission 12 was the last successful APE cache. I can deduce that when I researched the caches for this page, the login "Project APE" owned 13 caches, and I owned one, and there are 14 caches listed above. That should have accounted for them all. Anyone with information to the contrary, please drop me a line.
Last Updated: July 4, 2011