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Jordan Mechner discusses Prince of Persia Movie January 5th, 2008

Gama­su­tra recently had a sit down talk with Prince of Per­sia cre­ator, Jor­dan Mech­ner. I’ve posted the major­ity of the inter­view here because it pro­vides a huge amount of insight into the devel­op­ment of the movie adap­ta­tion, and who am I to para­phrase Mr Mechner.

There’s been buzz about the Prince of Per­sia movie. Who’s pro­duc­ing? Who’s directing?

Jerry Bruck­heimer is pro­duc­ing for Walt Dis­ney Pic­tures. Mike Newell [ Don­nie Brasco, Harry Pot­ter and the Gob­let of Fire] is the director.

What’s it like work­ing with Jerry Bruckheimer?

I’ve only seen the tip of the ice­berg, but he is extremely focused, detail-oriented and com­pletely unflap­pable. Things that most peo­ple might con­sider a cri­sis — hur­ri­canes, strikes, what­ever — he han­dles very calmly and some­how it all works out. I can see why the stu­dios feel con­fi­dent entrust­ing him with hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars. If he’s mak­ing the movie, everything’s gonna be OK.

Is Ubisoft involved or does your license agree­ment allow you to do this separately?

They’re sep­a­rate deals. Ubisoft has the videogame rights to Prince of Per­sia and Dis­ney has the film rights.

How long has the script been in development?

I wrote the first draft and sev­eral revi­sions over a period of about a year and a half. Two more years of devel­op­ment fol­lowed, in which addi­tional revi­sions were done by (in this order): Jeff Nach­manoff, Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro and Carlo Bernard.

That sounds like a crazy num­ber of writ­ers, but the orig­i­nal screen­play struc­ture, plot and char­ac­ters have sur­vived the whole process pretty much intact.

It’s still very much the same movie John August and I pitched to Dis­ney and Bruck­heimer back in 2004 — it’s been stream­lined in cer­tain ways, souped up in oth­ers. It’s a good, solid story and I think it’ll be very sat­is­fy­ing on screen.

What are the dif­fer­ences between writ­ing for a video game and writ­ing for a film? How closely does the movie sto­ry­line cor­re­spond to the games?

If you sum­ma­rize the movie in one sen­tence, it sounds iden­ti­cal to the first Sands of Time videogame, but scene by scene it’s actu­ally com­pletely dif­fer­ent. It has to be, because games and film are such dif­fer­ent mediums.

On the sur­face they’re decep­tively sim­i­lar — you can watch five min­utes of an action-adventure videogame and think “this could be a movie,” or vice-versa — but struc­turally the require­ments are totally different.

Here’s one exam­ple: The game kicks off with a cat­a­clysm that basi­cally destroys the world and turns all liv­ing crea­tures except for the three main char­ac­ters into rag­ing, mur­der­ous sand mon­sters. That was a great setup for the game­play we had, which was “acro­batic Per­sian sur­vival horror.”

But if you put that setup in a film, it would be a “B” movie, and that’s not the kind of movie Prince of Per­sia should be. Our model is clas­sic epic, swash­buck­ling action-adventure movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Zorro, and Thief of Bagh­dad, with humor and romance and full of mem­o­rable char­ac­ters. You can’t get there if you turn every­body into sand mon­sters on page fifteen.

I hope Sands of Time game fans will see the movie with an open mind and judge it based on the expe­ri­ence it cre­ates for them, not by the stan­dard of how closely it matches the 2003 video game. The game still exists and you can still have the expe­ri­ence of play­ing it. We’re not destroy­ing it by mak­ing the movie. We’re cre­at­ing some­thing new that has to stand on its own, just as the game did.

Will there be a game title that goes along with the movie? Are there any new games in the works sep­a­rate from the movie?

Sorry, but I can’t answer that question!

How close is the movie to start­ing film­ing and how does the strike affect it?

The movie is in pre-production. At this moment there’s no way to know how long the writ­ers’ strike will last, or if the direc­tors’ and actors’ guilds will strike as well. It’s a very inse­cure time for the whole industry.

A lot of big movies that were set to go, now aren’t. I was really hop­ing that Mike Newell would be the one to direct this movie and I was ecsta­tic when he agreed, but it was bit­ter­sweet because I only had about 24 hours to rejoice before the writ­ers’ strike began.

I sup­port my guild and the writ­ers’ cause, so until the strike is resolved I can’t meet with Newell and the Bruck­heimer execs or con­tribute fur­ther to the devel­op­ment of the movie. It’s frus­trat­ing because I’ve been dream­ing of a Prince of Per­sia movie, basi­cally, for 20 years, and now at this key moment when the project has finally found the right direc­tor and he’s brim­ming with enthu­si­asm and excite­ment, I can’t even meet with him.

Shooting to begin in June 2008, No one cast yet December 5th, 2007

Col­lider had the oppor­tu­nity to catch up with pro­ducer Jerry Bruck­heimer at the National Trea­sure: Book of Secrets jun­ket. In doing so they man­aged to reveal a num­ber of inter­est­ing new details about the film’s sched­ule (albeit in some ter­ri­bly phrased Eng­lish).

The impor­tant points to take from the interview:

  • Nobody has been cast
  • The movie may become a franchise
  • Film­ing is set to start in June, if the writer’s strikes get resolved.

Some quotes:

Jerry Bruck­heimer: We hired a very inter­est­ing direc­tor – Mike Newell – who did one of the Harry Potter’s and also did Don­nie Brasco and he’s a very inven­tive, inge­nious direc­tor and I think he’s going to bring some­thing really spe­cial to it. […]

Q: Is this one of these prop­er­ties that you envi­sion the pos­si­bil­ity of a franchise […]?

Jerry Bruck­heimer: Yes. It’s a big pro­duc­tion and if they work it’s another char­ac­ter that you can take on other adventures.

Q: Do you have any cast­ing on it?

Jerry Bruck­heimer: Not yet.

Mike Newell Video Interview November 27th, 2007

As promised…

Via Reelz

Mike Newell Interview, Dagger of Time to be focus November 12th, 2007

Reelz Chan­nel will soon be post­ing a video inter­view with Mike Newell con­cern­ing the Prince of Per­sia Movie adap­ta­tion. In the mean time, Reelz report:

From the way he was talk­ing, Newell made it clear that he plans to make this movie. The only thing that is hold­ing up progress is indeed the writ­ers’ strike that has ground Hol­ly­wood to a hault. […]

When asked if and how the ‘dag­ger of time’ would fig­ure into the movie, Newell affirmed that it will be the main focus. ‘It’s all about the dag­ger of time,’ he told us.

Thanks West­ley!

Michael Bay no longer Directing, Mike Newell instead? November 8th, 2007

Well, this was a turn up for the books and some­thing I didn’t really see com­ing. It seems that Jerry Bruck­heimer and Dis­ney have made an offer to Mike Newell (Harry Pot­ter Gob­let of Fire, Don­nie Brasco) to direct, accord­ing to Vari­ety. Nego­ti­a­tions are expected to begin in the com­ing week.

Thanks to John for the heads up.

John August doubtful about release date June 16th, 2007

Screenwriter/Executive Pro­ducer John August has laid down his views regard­ing Disney’s planned release date for the Prince of Per­sia adap­ta­tion, he’s not so sure:

Sev­eral sites have reported that Dis­ney has picked July 10, 2009 as the release date for Prince of Per­sia: The Sands of Time. My guess is that this got writ­ten on a white­board at some strate­gic plan­ning meet­ing, in answer to the ques­tion, “Hey, if we made that Prince of Per­sia movie, when would we release it?”

It’s a per­fectly good date, but I have no idea if there will be a movie to show. I don’t know if it’s get­ting made, or who’s direct­ing, or who’s star­ring. No one knows, not even the peo­ple sign­ing the checks. It’s still a project in development.

John’s Site.

Maybe late sum­mer 2009? We’ll have to see how things develop.

We have a date: July 10th 2009 June 9th, 2007

Noth­ing more to really say, Dis­ney has set forth not just a vague Sum­mer 2009 indi­ca­tion, but a spe­cific date — July 10th to be exact, 2 years and one month from now. The ball, like that one in Indi­ana Jones, is cer­tainly rolling now, Park­our and all.

Via Com­ing­Soon.

Sands of Time Script Review June 1st, 2007

Latino Review is a web­site infa­mous for its early pre­views, pub­li­ca­tions and reviews of in-development first draft scripts. This time they have done it again with a review of Bruckheimer’s Prince of Per­sia adap­ta­tion, with screen­play writ­ten by Jor­dan Mech­ner and Jef­frey Nach­manoff. Their conclusion?

Rat­ing: A-, Almost Per­fect

What does that mean in real terms? Not a lot really, but it is encour­ag­ing. To sur­mise the fairly lengthy review:

  • Expect a lot of Park­our (remem­ber that scene in Casino Royale?) — Per­son­ally I feel that this film is per­fect for some park­our exhi­bi­tion­ism, meld­ing seam­lessly with the sub­ject mat­ter: “Park­our is a phys­i­cal art of French ori­gin, the aim of which is to move from point A to point B as effi­ciently and quickly as pos­si­ble, using prin­ci­pally the abil­i­ties of the human body.
  • The script begins with Nizam and the Per­sian Army inter­cept­ing some smug­glers. Dis­tan is intro­duced in a knife throw­ing contest.
  • Dis­tan is soon in pos­ses­sion of a cer­e­mo­nial dag­ger with a glass han­dle filled with sand and encrusted with stones.
  • By the end of act 1 the sto­ry­line of the film is setup (not revealed here) and the pow­ers of the dag­ger briefly unveiled.

And here is a prospec­tive movie poster:

Prince of Persia Movie Poster

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