Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
I can’t say enough good about this film, if you haven’t seen it yet, go now because it’s probably going to start disappearing from theaters very soon, since so many other big films are out now and coming out soon.
My wife and I and our 13 year old son saw this a couple of weeks ago and were highly impressed! None of us were really enthused about it going in, but we all came out thrilled and happy we saw it. It’s a typical Jerry Bruckheimer film with lots of action, but it’s quite fun and has a great story. The action and adventure in the film are on par with other Bruckheimer films, Pirates of the Caribbean and National Treasure.
I’m not a film critic, and it’s not really what I want the focus of my blog to be about, but since it is Disney-related, I may occasionally venture into this territory, if the mood hits me. However, I’m not going to critique this film or even try to add anything to it, but I would like to offer an analysis of the film’s performance at the box office for the U.S. I think the writers, producer and director did a fantastic job putting this story together, and I genuinely believe it’s one of the best films so far this year, even better than Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland. Unfortunately, and curiously to me, the film has done the complete opposite at the box office as what Disney was hoping.
Fourth week estimates at Box Office Mojo, put the movie at 15th on the list so far this year, behind Sex and the City 2 and Percy Jackson & The Olympians. I would like to hope that it has the possibility of catching a second wind and taking off like How to Train Your Dragon did, but with Toy Story 3 now out, I just don’t see that happening. I really don’t get why this movie didn’t catch on better than it did. My guess would be that it’s due mostly to competition. There are several big movies this summer all competing for movie-goers bucks. What I find odd, is that Disney studios are partly to blame for the tight competition this summer. Toy Story 3 started Friday, just 4 weeks after Prince of Persia, then next month, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice will make its debut. That’s a lot of strong competition with your self.
While I don’t have any complaints or additions to the movie and story itself, I do think Disney missed the target on marketing the movie. Whether intentional or not, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a live action telling of the Aladdin story. There were a number of elements from Aladdin that worked quite well for the movie and made it fun to watch but left me wondering if this wasn’t supposed to be the live action retelling of that story and if marketing might’ve done better trying to take that angle with trying to sell this film. I know the Prince of Persia video games have been very successful and I’ve heard that Disney wanted to capitalize on them and the stories behind them, however, I personally have never played any of them, so I wasn’t too familiar with the characters or story line. I really enjoyed Dastan’s character though, and I think they could’ve marketed him better by showing more of the opening scene of him as a young boy in the market place and his bravery and acrobatics trying to escape the guards, it’s essentially the same scene as in Aladdin where he’s trying to escape the guards in the market place as well. It’s a fun scene that pretty much defines the tone and pace of the rest of the movie and one that I believe could’ve helped sell the movie.
Overall, I think the cast performed admirably. Everyone was believable in their roles, and I liked Jake Gyllenhaal in the starring role as prince Dastan. I should add that Ben Kingsley and Alfred Molina were also cast and performed quite well for their roles. However, even though I liked Gyllenhaal in the starring role, I’m not sure his “star-power” was high enough to drive the box office. So, who might I have picked? If possible, I might have chosen Orlando Bloom for the starring role, and then maybe cast Gyllenhaal as the younger brother and perhaps Viggo Mortensen, one of my favorite actors, for the older brother. Their are other casting changes I think could’ve been made to make the film more appealing, like perhaps a different, better known actress to play the role of Princess Tamina of Alamut. Again, I don’t think any of those that were cast did a bad job in their roles, it’s just that there weren’t any names with what might be considered “big star status” in the film to draw in the masses, like Pirates or National Treasure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I think you need big status stars to draw people into a movie and make it a hit, but it definitely helps with creating a hook for the audience even before they come into the theater.
As much as I hate to admit it, the lack of this movie NOT being in 3D, when everything else coming out right now IS, might possibly be a factor in its weak box office performance. I’m not a fan of 3D. I see it as a gimmick that Hollywood is using right now to try and milk more money from movie goers. However, five of the top six movies for 2010 were in 3D, number two, Iron Man was not, but had enough synergy going for it that it probably wouldn’t have made a big difference. I don’t know that 3D would have made a huge difference, but it could’ve created a bit of a dilemma for theaters as some would have had to bump Shrek Forever After to show Prince of Persia. It’s anybody’s guess how that would have worked as it could have meant an even poorer box office if theater owners went with Shrek instead of Prince Dastan.
Any one or all three of these reasons or any others could have been reason for the low turnout for this movie. What’s even more interesting to me in all this, is how the movie is performing in other markets overseas. It has made over $225 million so far, in comparison to only $86 million here int he U.S. Perhaps its international performance will be big enough that it will help it finish with respecatable numbers.
So, go see it, and then come back and tell me your thoughts. Maybe you think I’m totally off-base here on my thoughts, but I’m still curious about why it’s not performed better and would love to hear others’ input.