With Memorial Day just around the corner, a Jerry Bruckheimer popcorn extravaganza can’t be far behind. And like some genie with the power to magically transform base metal into gold, the producer has manifested his latest spectacle, “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” from, of all things, a 2003 videogame.
“It wasn’t easy to do — it took us nearly seven years to get the screenplay (based on one by game creator Jordan Mechner) right, and a lot of people said we were crazy to even try,” admits Bruckheimer of the fantasy adventure that mixes PG-13 Arabian Nights with “The Lord of the Rings” — and even touches of Cecil B. DeMille at his most surreal. “And they’re still saying it.”
(Naysayers said the same thing about the producer translating a creaky theme-park ride into a big-screen spectacle.)
The exotic epic, directed by Mike Newell (“Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”), stars Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular prince Dastin, Gemma Arterton of “Clash of the Titans” as the princess, and Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina in colorful supporting roles. “It revolves around this magical dagger which can turn back time, and everyone’s trying to get their hands on it,” explains Bruckheimer, “and there’s lots of adventure and romance and fights and great locations and sets.”
The producer hired Newell because he could cover all the bases. “Obviously he can do fantasy, and he has a wonderful sense of humor, and when you see something like ‘Donnie Brasco’ you see he can do things that are gritty and tough as well,” Bruckheimer says. “He’s incredibly experienced, and was the perfect man for the job.”
As it turned out, Newell and Bruckheimer needed all their experience and powers to cope with the shoot in Morocco. “It was very physical and pretty brutal, as we shot there during the hottest part of the summer — 120 degrees,” recalls the producer. “It was very, very trying for all the cast and crew, but that was the window when everyone was available, so we just went to work.”
The result of all the sweat (if not tears — “Apart from the heat, it went pretty smoothly”) will be released almost simultaneously around the globe May 28. “It’s a big entertaining picture that hopefully will play well in every country in the world,” he says.