Inside Move: Fox turns ‘Apes’ loose at fair

Heston's loin cloth 'hard to fill,' Diggler sez

This story was corrected on February 26, 2001.

NEW YORK — Twentieth Century Fox is going ape over its latest summer franchise and the merchandising possibilities it’s likely to spawn.

Co-chairman Tom Rothman, star of the film Mark Wahlberg and licensing prexy Steve Ross schlepped to New York City Sunday for the opening night of Toy Fair to screen footage from Tim Burton’s highly secret “Planet of the Apes” remake, now shooting in the desert outside of L.A.

After the studio execs unveiled the ambitious marketing plan they hope will prime the pump for the pic’s July 27 preem, the real show began as 10 apes, straight from the set, marched out. They stormed around the theater, glowering at toy retailers and growling.

The pic’s footage was raw but visceral and full of dazzling effects, and the apes were vividly realized — a far cry from the campy horde that populated the Charlton Heston version from 1968.

Still, Wahlberg had nothing but praise for the first human to battle those “damned dirty apes.”

Recalling the otherworldly authority with which Heston dispatched the original role, Wahlberg noted: “Even after playing Dirk Diggler, that loin cloth is hard to fill.”