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Disney pushes ‘Persia’ to 2010

Studio wants to allow time for post-production

Disney and producer Jerry Bruckheimer have pushed back the release of fantasy actioner “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” by nearly a year, from June 19, 2009, to Memorial Day weekend 2010.

Officially, Disney said it wants to allow plenty of time for post-production considering that the tentpole will require extensive special effects to create its fantasy world and setpieces.

In addition, however, the move takes “Prince of Persia” out of the path of “Transformers 2,” which DreamWorks and Paramount open on June 26, 2009.

Filmmaker Mike Newell began lensing the pic last week in Morocco and will remain there until the production moves to London.

Decision to delay the release by a year caught some by surprise, although the calendar could continue to see major reshufflings because of the ongoing labor strife in Hollywood. Studios may want to allow for extra cushion in case of any production delays.

Bruckheimer and Disney don’t want to take any chances with “Prince of Persia,” which they are hoping turns into a mega-franchise, along the lines of “Pirates of the Caribbean,” that can feed the entire Disney empire, from sequels to potential TV or direct-to-DVD spinoffs, merchandise and Disney theme-park attractions.

Pic, based on Ubisoft’s bestselling vidgame, toplines Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina.

In its new date, “Prince of Persia” opens a week after the release of “Shrek Goes Fourth.”

Disney isn’t relinquishing the June 19-21, 2009, weekend completely.

In a twin move, it is pushing up the release of Sandra Bullock-Ryan Reynolds romantic comedy “The Proposal” from September 2009 to June 19, 2009. Counterprogramming in the heart of summer with female-skewing titles has become a potential goldmine, with Disney looking to continue that trend.

Disney also has dated “Jonas Brothers 3-D Concert Movie” for Feb. 27, 2009.

(Marc Graser contributed to this report.)

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