"Prince of Persia" leaps onto movie screens

Thu May 27, 2010 7:59am EDT
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By John Gaudiosi

RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters) - Long before Jake Gyllenhaal mastered parkour and sword fighting to bring Prince Dastan to life in new movie "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," video gamers held sway over the acrobatic hero.

In 1987, Jordan Mechner released his adventure "Prince of Persia" for Apple II computer users, pushing video game animation forward by using a new technology called rotoscoping in which he taped his brother wearing white clothes jumping and sword fighting then replicated those movements for his game.

"At the time, I was watching movies like 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and the 1940 'Thief of Baghdad' and I wanted to get the spirit of those types of films in the game," said Mechner.

Over the years, "Prince of Persia" became a huge success on multiple gaming platforms, spawned sequels and this Friday in the United States, the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movie starring Gyllenhaal in the title role hits theaters.

But it wasn't until 2003 that new technology enabled Mechner to bring his true vision of Prince Dastan to life with fleshed-out characters and 3D environments.

Mechner collaborated with game publisher Ubisoft on the first "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time," which introduced a new story and propelled the acrobatic action forward on PC, Xbox, PlayStation 2 and GameCube.

"In both the game and the movie, the Prince is tricked by a villain who wants to possess the Dagger of Time," said Mechner. "To set things right, he has to team up with the princess of the kingdom he's mistakenly helped conquer."

"The Sands of Time" games now number four, in all. Ubisoft has sold over 14 million copies of them since 2003, and they are now available for PCs, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii, PSP and Nintendo DS.   Continued...

<p>Cast member Jake Gyllenhaal waves at the premiere of "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" at the Grauman's Chinese theatre in Hollywood, California May 17, 2010. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>