‘Prince of Persia’ Creator Says Film Will Give ‘Pirates’ Treatment To Arabian Nights Genre

Take “Pirates of the Caribbean.” You have this franchise that goes out, makes $3 billion in theaters, another couple billion in DVD and ancillary merchandise, and wouldn’t you know it? Suddenly, everybody wants to compare their new film to the series that launched a thousand Orlando Bloom fan pages. And in one case, they’d actually be right.

“Prince of Persia” isn’t just going to be like “Pirates” in terms of scope and tone, the newest Disney/Bruckheimer tag-team is actually going to “do for Arabian Nights movies what ‘Pirates’ did for pirate movies,” screenwriter and series creator Jordon Mechner told MTV News. Slated for 2010, the film will star Jake Gyllenhaal as the iconic video game character character.

“This is how we pitched it to Disney and Bruckheimer – as an old-fashioned swashbuckling action-adventure in a tradition going all the way back to the Doug Fairbanks movies. The modern equivalent being ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ an example of an old movie made new again, doing a fresh take on it for a modern audience,” Mechner said. “Tonally, I’d say it’s basically ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ with maybe a half-step towards ‘Gladiator.’”

That half-step towards “Gladiator” might fall into what I’ve begun calling the “Batman Begins” approach to tentpoles – taking seemingly impossible things and contextualizing them within a real world.

That sounds about right to Mechner, who insisted that the characters, props, and tools of “Persia” will all strive to strike something of a balance between fantasy and reality.

“If you take the first ‘Sands of Time’ game, that was set in basically the real world, but with this mystical element that intrudes into it,” Mechner said of the balance. “It feels like it’s grounded in a very real world with historical roots, but then it’s got this fantasy element as well. It’s not completely over the top.”

Of course, that said, it’s still a Bruckheimer production.

“There’ll certainly be a lot of stunts, a lot of special effects. I mean it’s Jerry Bruckheimer!” Mechner insisted. “They’re shooting in the deserts of Morocco. The scope of this is going to be massive. It’s really spectacular.”

Mechner, of course, was involved in the creation of the first ever “Prince of Persia” video game in 1989, and with the highly rated “Prince of Persia: Sands of Time” in 2003, the game that rebooted the franchise and served as a story template for the upcoming film (in addition to the new graphic novel, click here to read about that). But even given his background with the video game world – maybe even because of it – Mechner insists that “Persia” will not be your typical video game movie.

“Well the movie’s packed with action, so there’ll be swords and horses and all the things that wouldn’t be ‘Prince of Persia’ without. But because it’s a movie, it’s about the characters and character relationships. There’s no fighting for fighting’s sake. In a game, you have a lot of fighting because you’re doing it and it’s fun,” he said. “But in a movie, fighting’s a part of the story but it’s not a movie about swordfighting.”

Looking forward to “Prince of Persia”? Think “Pirates” is tonally a good note to strive for? Sound off on all your thoughts below.