In Jordan's Words: Making Prince of Persia
Prince of Persia started as a game inspired by movies — from the sword battles in "Robin Hood" (1938) to Indiana Jones' spikes-defying leaps in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981) — so it's only fitting that, twenty years later, the pixelly Apple II prince would make the jump to the big screen himself.
Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer, fresh off "Pirates of the Caribbean," bought the pitch, based on Ubisoft's successful 2003 relaunch. I wrote the first screenplay (PDF), then watched the project evolve and grow into a massive summer-blockbuster production that brought a cast and crew of thousands to the Moroccan desert.
My childhood self saw a special poetry in the casting of Alfred Molina (who'd failed to evade the spikes ten minutes into "Raiders") as Sheikh Amar.
The May 2010 Disney movie launch included a slew of Prince of Persia books, toys, and merchandising tie-ins, including, most awesomely, LEGO Prince of Persia. I wrote a graphic-novel anthology prequel, Prince of Persia: Before the Sandstorm, in collaboration with artists Tommy Lee Edwards, Bernard Chang, Cameron Stewart, and Niko Henrichon. The only thing missing (ironically) was a tie-in video game; Ubisoft's game franchise has remained independent of the film.
I'd been working on my screenwriting craft since college; when my first screenplay got optioned in 1987, I almost didn't finish making Prince of Persia. (That story is told in my 1980s journal). I could never have guessed that my Apple II labors would lead to my first produced screenplay, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, 20 years later. With a worldwide box office tally of $335 million, Prince of Persia was the world's highest-grossing video game-to-movie adaptation until World of Warcraft dethroned it in 2016.
For a different take on Prince of Persia, check out the 2008 Prince of Persia graphic novel written by Iranian poet A.B. Sina, with an afterword (PDF) by me. It's an original story with its roots in the Persian myths and legends which the games and movie share. It was my first project with First Second Books and the phenomenally talented husband-and-wife illustrator team LeUyen Pham & Alexandre Puvilland, and it sparked our next collaboration, Templar.