mikenewell

When I look at director Mike Newell’s filmography, I’m impressed by its breadth, depth, and quality. It’s difficult for me to imagine that the same man who made Donnie Brasco also made Four Weddings and a Funeral, and also made Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Yet despite (or perhaps because of) his eclectic choices, Newell has been able to craft films that always seem able to bring out a certain sense of authenticity in their characters and in the relationships between them. In a couple of months, Newell will tackle another big-budget adaptation, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. In the past, videogame adaptations have had a pretty spotty record in terms of quality, but I’m holding out hope that Sands of Time will be one of the best videogame-to-film adaptations we’ve seen yet.

I had the opportunity recently to chat with Mr. Newell for a lengthy conversation/interview. Our discussion spanned topics far and wide; we discussed the early days of Mike’s career, why he enjoyed working in film over TV, the tax benefits of working with George Lucas, the “English-ness” he tried to bring to the Harry Potter series, how he chooses his diverse projects, and why he cast Jake Gyllenhaal in The Prince of Persia. You can read the interview below, and/or listen to the audio via the /Filmcast.

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Mike Newell to Direct The Terminal Spy

terminal spy

Mike Newell (Prince of Persia, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Donnie Brasco) has signed on the write and direct a yet-to-be-officially-titled feature film based on the book The Terminal Spy by Alan Cowell, the New York Times’ London bureau chief when the events narrated in this book reached their climax.. The 448-page book is about the mysterious death of ex-Russian KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko, who was poisoned in 2006 and while laying in his London hospital bed, personally accused then-Russian President Vladimir Putin of being behind his murder.No cast has been attached to the project, which is said to be in “an advanced stage of development” over at Warner Bros.

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Screen Epiphanies: Filmmakers on the Films that Inspired Them

I’ve always loved reading and hearing what great filmmakers think of other great films and directors. You may have noticed that we ask some directors about their favorite films, from time to time, and I’ve even featured other websites and books that delve into this subject on the site from time to time.

Geoffrey Macnab and the British Film Institute have put together a book titled Screen Epiphanies: Filmmakers on the Films that Inspired Them collecting the stories of thirty-five leading international filmmakers focusing on “the film moments that stayed with them long after they left the movie theater” which inspired them to pursue a career in the movie industry.

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Disney’s Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, based on the UbiSoft reinvention of Jordan Mechner’s classic video game, doesn’t hit until May 28 2010. But Disney is apparently not so confident that the video game basis will translate to a large audience, so the studio has been pumping out images and footage since the first trailer debut last month. There’s a new featurette out now which explains the movie’s subtitle and gives some context for some of the trailer’s swirling, sandy shots. Check it out below. Read More »

Prince of Persia Movie Posters

prince_of_persia_gemma

Empire has the exclusive debut of two new UK posters for the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced adaptation of the Prince of Persia videogame series. And, oooh, they’re arty! At first glance, I thought Gemma Arterton‘s was a magazine cover, and Jake Gyllenhaal‘s image looks a bit like a prototype Criterion Collection cover from a couple years back. Don’t get me wrong; I like these images and am interested to see that Disney is promoting the film by taking a less obvious angle than “hey, big action movie!” Does the ad campaign mean that we’re actually in for something a little less standard than a version of Pirates of the Caribbean starring a muscly Jake? I hope so!

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Mike Newell in Talks to Direct The Lone Ranger

mike newell the lone ranger

Another great Tweetscoop from Production Weekly tells us that Mike Newell is “in talks to direct Terry Rossio & Ted Elliott’s big screen adaptation of The Lone Ranger at Disney.” I may have recently had trouble calling Newell’s surname to mind (ahem) but I’ve definitely enjoyed a good number of his films over the years.

The other credits we know to be locked in place for the Ranger is Johnny Depp who will be playing Tonto, the sidekick role, and Jerry Bruckheimer who will be producing. Bruckheimer very recently collaborated with Newell on the Prince of Persia picture. These Ranger negotiations would therefore seem to suggest Bruckheimer’s satisfaction with Prince. The question I’d ask is if Bruckheimer’s optimism actually counts for anything.

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Prince of Persia Pushed Back to 2010

Disney has announced that they will be pushing the big screen adaptation of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time back to May 28th 2010, from it’s previously announced June 19th 2009 release date. The old date was one week before Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The good news is that the new date is part of Memorial Day weekend, which will give the film a four day opening. The bad news is that the movie will now have to contend with Shrek Goes Fourth, which opens one week prior, and Marvel’s Thor, which is scheduled to hit theaters one week later.

Prince of Persia is an action adventure video game which follows an adventurous prince who teams up with a rival princess to stop an angry ruler from unleashing a sandstorm that could destroy the world. Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) must join forces with Tamina (Gemma Arterton), a feisty and exotic princess, to prevent a villainous nobleman from possessing the Sands of Time, a gift from the gods that can reverse time. Alfed Molina and Ben Kingsley co-star. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire helmer Mike Newell is directing under producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Persia began filming at the beginning of July in Morocco.

The Writers Strike vs. Prince of Persia

Prince of Persia

Even with the writers strike in full effect, preproduction on the big screen adaptation of Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is ramping up. Last month Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire helmer Mike Newell signed on to direct the video game adaptation. Our friends at Collider spoke with Jerry Bruckheimer, and the producer revealed that a script has been turned in and they are beginning to develop the film’s look and feel.

“We’re just starting to… we have a screenplay, we’re just starting to develop the look of it. It’ll be unique and fresh,” Bruckheimer said, later adding that the script is not set in stone: “We’re not going to film until June so hopefully the writers will come to some kind of consensus with the studios and we can continue.”

My sources tell me the plan was to originally begin production in March/April, which keeps with the production timelines of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. But now Bruckheimer is saying that filming isn’t going to begin until June 2008, which I’m hearing is the latest possibly start date for the planned Summer 2009 release date. Concept art and locations and prop designs need to finalized by early next year. What will happen if the writers strike isn’t over by then? Will the movie be delayed? It appears that the current screenplay draft is far from final. They went into production on the Pirates sequels without completed scripts, and were forced to revise the script based on the locations and props built based on preliminary drafts. To be fair, Pixar’s Ratatouille went through some revision when Brad Bird replaced the director. Bird was forced to stick within the 3D set constructions and character designs while revising the screenplay, and still made the movie of the year.

When asked if the film will be set in the mid-ages, Jerry stated:

“…but that could change to. It might change a little bit, we’re not sure yet. It’ll definitely be a period film; we’re not going to make it contemporary.”

But director Mike Newell, who Bruckheimer calls “inventive and ingenious”, gives us hope for the project, telling Rotten Tomatoes last month:

“It’s not a video game movie. It’s a great story. If you had read the script, you would know that it wasn’t a video game. It’s very exciting and it’s immensely romantic and it’s like Lost Horizon. It takes you to somewhere you’ve never been.”

Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is currently being prepped for a July 10th 2009 release.

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