For a long time video game movies struggled to find their footing despite Hollywood’s adamancy to turn them into the next big thing after the boom of superheroes. And in 2010, Disney put $200M behind a live-action adaptation of Ubisoft’s’ Prince of Persia, with Jake Gyllenhaal at the forefront, in order to kickstart a franchise similar to Pirates of the Caribbean.
But their plans to replicate the Depp-led films’ success wouldn’t come to fruition, with it becoming a commercial and critical disappointment, and Gyllenhaal would later express his regret for taking the role.
Three Reasons Why Disney’s Prince of Persia Was Dead on Arrival
By the time 2010 arrived, Ubisoft’s Prince of Persia was long past its glory days, with their last major release in the franchise, The Forgotten Sands, failing to score big. The Disney adaptation, which debuted 10 days after it, did little to reignite the IP’s popularity, only making $336.4M from a massive budget of $200M, shutting down Disney’s plans of turning it into a big franchise.
There are several factors responsible for the movie’s failure, with the major one being the whitewashing of the protagonist. Critics panned the adaptation for casting Jake Gyllenhaal over an actor of Iranian descent. The Nightcrawler Star too expressed regret over his decision to take the gig, claiming that it was a major slip-up and was a learning experience. He told Yahoo!:
“I think I learned a lot from that movie in that I spend a lot of time trying to be very thoughtful about the roles that I pick and why I’m picking them,” Gyllenhaal said. “And you’re bound to slip up and be like, ‘That wasn’t right for me,’ or ‘That didn’t fit perfectly.’ There have been a number of roles like that. And then a number of roles that do.”
But this wasn’t the lone reason that resulted in the movie’s eventual failure, as Prince of Persia crumbled under Disney’s humongous pressure to turn it into the next big thing. Furthermore, the incompetent marketing prior to its release alongside Disney overestimating the IP’s potential, Prince of Persia opened to less-than-stellar numbers.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s New Children’s Book References Prince of Persia
And while the movie is now seen as just a bad chapter in Jake Gyllenhaal’s impeccable career, his new children’s book, The Secret Society of Aunts and Uncle, did reference his Prince of Persia. But per the acclaimed actor, he wasn’t the one to sneak that reference into the book. He told EW:
“That was [illustrator] Dan Santat. He snuck that in before printing, and I didn’t approve that. I don’t know where that came from. Dan likes to put in his bits of humor, even misspelling my name at the back and having to put a post-it, having two A’s at the end. But no, when I described that space, it was the space where there was no farther down to go than the depths of where Leo is in that moment in the book. So I guess that was Dan’s joke on me.”
While Prince of Persia failed to live up to Disney’s plans, video game movies would eventually land their footing in Hollywood, especially in recent years, with one major example being The Last of US.
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is available to stream on Disney Plus.