Case Study #21
Where we explore the more
obscure movies that bombed
"Silly and forgettable"
And that was the nicest review
I could find on this movie...
First things first. In 2004, Jerry Bruckheimer acquired the movie rights of the video game Prince of Persia: Sands of Time.
Bruckheimer had already hit a winner out of the park by adapting a theme park ride into a billion dollar mega-wonder....the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Disney was expecting another cash-cow from Bruckheimer. Things didn't quite work out as planned. I have stated previously that movie execs look at box office receipts posted in the United States very carefully.
A general rule of thumb to gauge a hit? American receipts should match or well exceed the film budget.
Prince of Persia - released 2010 - cost 150 million to make but only earned back 90 million in the states. That's a fail, although it did earn back a shit-ton of money overseas...becoming the top earner for a video game-adapted movie.
Unfortunately, Disney and Bruckheimer were not looking for that kind of record - they had wanted a new Caribbean-like franchise.
Maybe if they'd made a decent film that would have happened. Film Cemetery is not about movies that I didn't like. And Prince of Persia is no exception.
This film is engaging and well-made, but at the same time manages to be bland and extremely uninteresting. A rather odd combo package.
Part of this is due to the casting.
I liked Jake Gyllenhaal in Source Code and Zodiac...but this film was not a good fit for him. In fact, it wasn't a good fit for any of the cast members.
Ben Kingsley, who long ago stopped being picky about scripts, (Love Guru, cough, cough) plays the evil Nazim.
Gemma Arterton plays Tamina. Richard Coyle is Tus. Notice anything about this trend?
Persian princes and princesses played by British actors with - except for Gyllenhaal - decidedly English accents.
The casting was finished in 2008 and filming began. The release date is telling in this circumstance.
Originally slated to hit theaters in June 2009, the release date was moved to May 2010. Many reasons are given for this long gestation period - but the real reason is usually the studio knows it has a stinker on its hands.
What can I say about the plot?
Well, if you saw Disney's animated feature Aladdin back in '92, then you know just about everything that's going to happen in Prince of Persia.
The rest of Prince of Persia's problem? The friggin' script.
Seriously, the story line and plot are so cookie-cutter it beggars belief.
Dastan (Gyllenhaal) gets blamed for his adopted father/king's death, goes on the run, defeats the bad guys in the most boring way imaginable. The end...sigh.
Jerry Bruckheimer should have learned a few lessons from Pirates of the Caribbean. In Pirates, we didn't know what would happen next or how it would all end up. We loved Jack Sparrow and his sideways walk - and don't forget that eye-shadow.
In Prince of Persia, we know exactly what will happen because it's been done before many times.
And much better, too.
But overall, it isn't a horrible film, and worth watching. Just keep in mind why this never became a franchise.