In March 2004, the production company Jerry Bruckheimer Films sought to acquire feature film rights to the 2003 video game Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
with the film to be distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
. Under John August
as executive producer, Jordan Mechner
was hired to write the script. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer
's Pirates of the Caribbean
film trilogy served as a touchstone in how a theme park ride was converted into a film franchise. According to Mechner, "Rather than do a straight beat-for-beat adaptation of the new videogame, we're taking some cool elements from the game and using them to craft a new story."
Mechner previously considered producing an animated film based on the games, but could not resist Disney and Bruckheimer's offer.
In February 2006, Disney hired screenwriter Jeffrey Nachmanoff
to write a new script for Prince of Persia
Early in 2007, Disney announced Prince of Persia
as one of its tentpole films and by June had scheduled a release date for July 10, 2009 before having a final script or any actors attached.
By November 2007, Disney entered negotiations with Mike Newell
to direct the film based on a script by Mechner and Nachmanoff, though the studio held off production until the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike
Newell was fond of Bruckheimer's films,
and loved the "exciting [and] immensely romantic" script, which reminded him of Lost Horizon
. His assistant played the video games and gave the director key details.
Mechner, in writing the script, re-conceived the storyline to shift the perspective from the interactive one experienced by video gamers to the non-interactive experience by film audiences. The screenwriter left out elements of the Prince of Persia
video games Warrior Within
and The Two Thrones
and did not anticipate including these elements in the film's possible sequels.
In March 2008, Newell selected Morocco
as a shooting location for Prince of Persia
and also planned to film in Pinewood Studios
. Production was scheduled to begin in mid-June 2008.
By May 2008, actors Jake Gyllenhaal
and Gemma Arterton
were cast into the lead roles. With a new script by Mechner, Doug Miro
, Carlo Bernard
, and Boaz Yakin
, filming began in July 2008 in Morocco as well as London
Eight weeks were spent in Morocco before the first unit moved to Pinewood.
When filming began, the film's release date was postponed to May 28, 2010 with the studio seeking enough time for the post-production process in designing the film's special effects. The profit margin
on the Pirates of the Caribbean
films was compromised by overspending expenditures as the special effects teams rushed to complete the films for their release dates. Variety
also ascribed the postponement to avoiding the potential 2008 Screen Actors Guild strike
so the studio could ensure that the film leads to a "mega-franchise" similar to its successful Pirates of the Caribbean
Other reasons for the release date change were that the film was originally scheduled a week before Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
, and Disney needed more time to co-ordinate its marketing campaign.