WEIRDLAND: Mechner talks about Prince of Persia

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mechner talks about Prince of Persia

"Prince Of Persia creator Jordan Mechner, who created the series in 1988 after earlier work on the seminal Karateka, is working on a Jerry Bruckheimer-produced Disney movie version of the classic PoP franchise.

In this Q&A, Mechner, who owns the rights to Prince Of Persia and has licensed them to Ubisoft for the recent games, discusses the game-film transition, the movie's new director, and some intriguing plot details.

He also touches on the difference between writing for film and writing for games, and what he thought of Ubisoft's XBLA remake of the original PoP.

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. 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.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". Source:
"LINKUbisoft Montreal are creating the new-look Prince outing, in which our hero will be gifted a sexy new side-kick, Elika, and a darker aesthetic.

The new action title will be out this festive season on PS3, PC, Xbox 360 and DS.

"I'm very excited about the new game. I'm glad they're taking it in a different direction," Mechner told Comic Con in San Diego. "I think it's absolutely beautiful. It's got that romantic, beautiful feel which I think is more true to the spirit of Prince of Persia. It's very ambitious, it's spectacular, and it's awesome. I like it."

The veteran had previously knocked PoP: The Warrior Within, a release he was not involved with though Mechner seems far more optimistic about the next game, encouragingly: "I'd rather focus on the positive, and hope the new game is going to be the best one," he enthused. Source:

"Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner appeared at San Diego Comic-Con today where he chatted about his upcoming Prince of Persia graphic novel as well as Disney's in-development movie adaptation of his bestselling videogame.

While the movie is based on the Sands of Time game, Mechner said his script does not literally follow beat to beat the storyline of the game. He added that he does not expect any potential film sequels to be based on the subsequent games Warrior Within and The Two Thrones since they took the game's storyline in a different direction. Nothing from either of those games, including characters, will be in the current movie.

Mechner said that adapting an interactive experience into a non-interactive one means reconceiving the story. The challenge of the script was in writing an entirely new story than the game even if it has the same meaning, plot elements, and characters as the game. The movie has to be different because it is engineered to be played while the film is a spectator experience. Mechner wants the viewer to be taken on an emotional journey and to care about the characters so that way it's not all just about fighting monsters and action set-pieces.Unlike his game counterpart, the title character in the movie to be played by Jake Gyllenhaal will have a name. Mechner said that he chose the name "Dastan" for the prince because he believes its an old Persian name that means "trickster."

So are all the princes of Persia from the various incarnations the same character or different men? That's the idea that Mechner wants to explore in the graphic novel. The comic is set in both the 9th century and 13th centuries with a storyline that interweaves past and future. There is more than one potential prince in each storyline but it involves many of the same things as the games did and has lots of roots in Persian myths and legends. He said that the ancient Persian Book of Kings, the Shahnameh, was his inspiration for both the comic and the videogame.

The official site for the Prince of Persia graphic novel can be found HERE.


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