Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (film)

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Prince of Persia poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Newell
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Screenplay by
Story by Jordan Mechner
Based on Prince of Persia 
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Cinematography John Seale
Edited by
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios
Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • May 9, 2010 (2010-05-09) (London premiere)
  • May 28, 2010 (2010-05-28) (United States)
Running time
116 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $200 million[1]
Box office $336.4 million[2]

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a 2010 action fantasy film directed by Mike Newell. The film was written by Jordan Mechner, Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan, Gemma Arterton as Princess Tamina, Ben Kingsley as Nizam, and Alfred Molina as Sheik Amar.

The film has the same title as the video game Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, and is primarily based on it. Elements from Warrior Within and The Two Thrones, the two other titles from the Sands of Time trilogy of the Prince of Persia video game franchise, are also incorporated. The film received mixed reviews from critics and failed at the domestic box office, but became the highest-grossing film based on a video game.


After committing an act of bravery in the marketplace of the royal city of Nasaf, the street urchin Dastan is adopted by King Sharaman, becoming a prince of Persia. Years later, the grown Dastan spearheads an attack on Alamut, which the king's brother Nizam has accused of selling weapons to Persia's enemies. During the battle, the city's princess Tamina is captured and Dastan acquires a strange dagger. During a banquet, Dastan gives Sharaman a cloak as a gift. Pleased with Dastan's generosity, he offers Dastan a gift in return. As instructed by his elder brother Tus, he asks for Tamina to be Tus' wife. Sharaman instead offers the princess to be Dastan's first wife. After he declares Tamina as Dastan's future wife, Sharaman begins screaming in agony while wearing the cloak, which was treated with some form of poison that causes the king's flesh to burn and eventually kills him. Dastan is framed for murder but narrowly escapes from Alamut with Tamina, evading the king's high-born sons Garsiv and Tus. After being attacked by Tamina, Dastan finds that the sands within the dagger's hilt allow him to rewind time and retain knowledge of what happened before. While going to Avrat for Sharaman's funeral, Dastan is knocked out by Tamina and left alone in the desert where he encounters a shady merchant called Sheik Amar and his African bodyguard Seso, who, upon recognizing Dastan, try to capture him for the bounty Tus is offering for him; Dastan escapes to Avrat, and arranges a covert meeting with Nizam, who pretends to be sympathetic to Dastan's plight. At their meeting, Dastan sees Nizam's hands burned and realizes in horror that his uncle had murdered Sharaman. Dastan escapes from an ambush with the princess, but Nizam secretly sets a group of Hassansins, corrupted Persian warriors, on their tail, while Tus had sent the angry Garsiv and his men to find Dastan.

As they are on the run, Tamina tells Dastan about the dagger's origins: the gods had decided to sweep mankind from the earth with a great sandstorm because of their sin. But a young girl pleaded with the gods and convinced them to withhold their wrath offering herself as sacrifice. The sands from the storms were stored in a great hollow crystal called the Sandglass, with the dagger, called the Dagger of Time, being the only thing that could break the crystal. The Sandglass was hidden beneath Alamut with Tamina's family, descended from the young girl who saved mankind, as its guardians. It is shown that Nizam orchestrated the siege of Alamut so he could hunt for the Sandglass and use the sands to change an event in his youth where he saved Sharaman from a lion, thereby ensuring Nizam would become king.

Seeing that the sands’ release would destroy the world, Tamina is willing to return the dagger to the place where it was given, giving her life in the process. They reach the dagger's resting place in the Hindu Kush, after being captured by Sheik Amar, but are ambushed by soldiers under the command of Garsiv. Dastan manages to convince Garsiv of his innocence, but the Hassansins attack. Tamina escapes the ambush and goes down in to the bottom of the sanctuary, preparing to return the dagger, but Dastan stops her saying he isn't ready for her to die. The two share an intimate moment and nearly kiss, but then the leader of the Hassansins takes the dagger from Tamina and kills Garsiv. Together with Sheik Amar, his Umbakan guardian Seso and his retinue, Dastan and Tamina head back to Alamut. After Seso retakes the dagger from the Hassansin guarding it, Dastan uses it on himself in front of Tus, showing him the power of the dagger and his own innocence. But Nizam arrives, kills Tus and takes the dagger, leaving Dastan to die. Tamina saves him and they go down into the catacombs of Alamut.

Dastan confronts Zolm, the Hassansin leader, and is nearly killed until Tamina takes Zolm's snake and stabs him in the eye with its teeth while Dastan pushes him down deeper into the catacombs beneath Alamut to his death. Dastan and Tamina then kiss tenderly. The two arrive in the chamber of the Sandglass as Nizam stabs it, starting the release of the sands. When they reach him, Nizam attacks them, and Tamina, who has grown to love the prince, sacrifices herself to give Dastan his chance which leaves Dastan heartbroken and devastated. Dastan manages to remove the dagger from the Sandglass, preventing the end of time, and rewinds time to just after the siege of Alamut, undoing all the events he has lived through. Dastan manages to find his brothers and expose Nizam for his treachery, who attacks Dastan in a rage and is then killed by Tus.

As an apology for the ransacking of her city, Tus suggests that Dastan and Tamina are married as a goodwill pact. As they converse afterwords, Dastan hints at his knowledge of the dagger’s power and says he looks forward to their future together.




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, the series' creator 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."[3] Mechner previously considered producing an animated film based on the games, but could not resist Disney and Bruckheimer's offer.[4] In February 2006, Disney hired screenwriter Jeffrey Nachmanoff to write a new script for Prince of Persia.[5]

Early in 2007, Disney announced Rahul the Prince 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.[6] 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 was resolved.[7] Newell was fond of Bruckheimer's films,[8] 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.[9] 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.[4]

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 as special effects teams rushed to complete the films for their release dates.[10] 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 series.[11] 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.[12] Gyllenhaal claims he "over-prepared"[13] for the role, gaining five or six pounds of muscle.[13] The actor says, "I never knew how much they were going to ask me to do, so I just made sure I'd be hopefully able to do anything."[13] Gemma Arterton was announced to play the role of protagonist Tamina,[12] and Arterton reported she practiced horse back riding in Madrid before filming.[14] Ben Kingsley was to portray the film's antagonist, Nizam.[15] Alfred Molina was to portray a character named Sheik Amar, who becomes a mentor to the prince.[16] Toby Kebbell was to play Prince Garsiv, Dastan's brother and head of the Persian army.[17] Richard Coyle was cast as the eldest brother Crown prince Tus and William Foster was cast as young Dastan based on his experience in parkour. The leading characters of the film all speak with recognisably English accents for some reason.


In March 2008, director 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.[18] By May 2008, actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton were cast into the lead roles. With a new script by Jordan Mechner, Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard, and Boaz Yakin, filming began in July 2008 in Morocco as well as London.[12] Eight weeks were spent in Morocco before the first unit moved to Pinewood.[13] Unlike other Disney films being made at the time, filming was not done in three dimensions, nor was the film converted into 3-D during post production.[19]


Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Soundtrack album by Harry Gregson-Williams
Released May 17, 2010
Genre Film score
Length 66:26
Label Walt Disney
Producer Hans Zimmer

Alanis Morissette composed the theme song for the film, named "I Remain".[20] The score was written by composer Harry Gregson-Williams.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Soundtrack
No. Title Length
1. "The Prince of Persia"   5:20
2. "Raid on Alamut"   6:32
3. "Tamina Unveiled"   2:34
4. "The King and His Sons"   2:59
5. "Dastan and Tamina Escape"   4:31
6. "Journey Through the Desert"   2:55
7. "Ostrich Race"   0:59
8. "Running from Sheikh Amar [sic]"   3:27
9. "Trusting Nizam"   4:37
10. "Visions of Death"   1:46
11. "So, You're Going to Help Me?"   2:20
12. "The Oasis Ambush"   1:54
13. "Hassansin Attack"   2:59
14. "Return to Alamut"   3:05
15. "No Ordinary Dagger"   4:39
16. "The Passages"   3:09
17. "The Sands of Time"   3:58
18. "Destiny"   3:38
19. "I Remain" (performed by Alanis Morissette, written by Alanis Morissette and Mike Elizondo) 4:57
Total length:



Disney's marketing strategy included a step by step release of the film. Prince of Persia was released first in Europe, with its world premiere held in Westfield, London, UK on May 9 then premiered on May 19, 2010 in Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, and on May 20 in Germany.[21] It was released on May 21 in the United Kingdom, Spain, Bulgaria, Poland, and Turkey. It was released in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and the Philippines on May 27. The film was not released in the United States until May 28 to try to profit from the potentially higher audience on Memorial Day weekend. It was also released in Ghana, India, Romania and Nigeria on May 28.


Mechner, Gyllenhaal, Bruckheimer, and Newell at a panel promoting the film at WonderCon 2010.

The poster made its debut as a background prop in a 2009 Bruckheimer production, Confessions of a Shopaholic, similar to how Warner Bros. incorporated poster for various developed but never filmed projects based on their comic characters in I Am Legend.[22] The week of Confessions of a Shopaholic’s release, Disney signed a merchandising deal with Lego for the film.[23]

Disney released merchandise such as action figures, LEGO sets, costumes and a replica Dagger of Time. It also released a graphic novel called Prince of Persia: Before the Sandstorm, which will act as a prequel to the film. Also, a video game was developed by Ubisoft Montreal titled Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands and was released alongside the film; however, the game's story is unrelated to the film, and instead takes place between the first two games in the Sands of Time trilogy.[citation needed]

Home media[edit]

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released a single-disc DVD, a single-disc Blu-ray Disc, and a 3-disc Blu-ray combo-pack in the US on September 14, 2010.[24][25] The DVD landed in the number one spot on the US DVD sales chart, with 664,041 units sold within the first week and 1,623,361 units in total (equal to $33,941,976) as of March 13, 2011.[26]

In the UK, it opened at number one on the DVD and Blu-ray charts during its first week.[27] In Germany, too, the DVD landed No. 1 on the country's DVD chart.[28]


Critical response[edit]

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time holds a 36% "rotten" rating on aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 5/10.[29] The critical consensus is: "It doesn't offer much in the way of substance, but Prince of Persia is a suitably entertaining swashbuckler—and a substantial improvement over most video game adaptations."[29] Another review aggregate, Metacritic, which calculates an average rating based on reviews from mainstream critics, gave a score of 50/100.[30] Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four and wrote, "The two leads are not inspired. Jake Gyllenhaal could make the cover of a muscle mag, but he plays Dastan as if harboring Spider-Man's doubts and insecurities."[31] Film critic David Roark of Relevant Magazine, on the other hand, gave the film a positive review and wrote: "Newell has unquestionably accomplished what he set out to do, which is ridiculous, silly and forgettable, but amusing nonetheless."[32]

Box office[edit]

The film which—according to Disney and Bruckheimer—was supposed to be "the new Pirates of the Caribbean", debuted #3 at the U.S. box office behind Shrek Forever After and Sex and the City 2 with $30.1 million in its first 3-day weekend of release. It is the third highest opening for a video game adaptation, behind Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Pokémon: The First Movie. During Memorial Day, it surpassed Sex and the City 2 to gross $37,813,075 for the 4-day weekend and finish in second place.

Internationally, the film grossed an estimated $18 million in its first weekend (before its US release), when it opened in 19 major European countries.[33] Prince of Persia debuted at #1 in these countries, except the United Kingdom where it lost the top spot to StreetDance 3D. A week later the film was released in the rest of the world and it grossed an estimated $61.6 million in total from 47 countries and $30.1 million in North America,[34] becoming the leader of the worldwide box office with $91,695,259, while reaching the #1 spot in 41 of the 47 countries.[35]

The film has ultimately earned $90,759,676 in the United States and Canada and $244,394,967 in other countries, for a total worldwide gross of $335,154,643 and has become the highest-grossing video-game adaptation ever worldwide, overtaking previous record holder Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Mortal Kombat before it, but was not successful in the United States and failed to gross its budget there.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)". Box Office Mojo (Internet Movie Database). Retrieved August 28, 2010. 
  3. ^ Bing, Jonathan; Cathy Dunkley (March 3, 2004). "Jerry preps game plan for 'Sands'". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Vejvoda, Jim (July 25, 2008). "SDCC 08: Mechner Talks Persia Movie". IGN (News Corporation). Retrieved August 6, 2008. 
  5. ^ Gardner, Chris (February 26, 2006). "Scribe goes into action for Disney". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  6. ^ McNary, Dave (July 13, 2007). "Hollywood films' dating game". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  7. ^ Fleming, Michael (November 7, 2007). "Disney, Bruckheimer talking 'Prince'". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Prince of Persia Movie Update". ReelzChannel (Hubbard Broadcasting Corporation). November 11, 2007. Retrieved October 12, 2008. 
  9. ^ Topel, Fred (November 12, 2007). "Mike Newell Drops Early Prince of Persia Details!". Rotten Tomatoes (News Corporation). Retrieved October 12, 2008. 
  10. ^ Hill, Jim (August 10, 2008). "Monday Mouse Watch: Why did Disney push back "Prince of Persia"?". Jim Hill Media (LLC). Retrieved October 12, 2008. 
  11. ^ McClintock, Pamela (July 31, 2008). "Disney pushes 'Persia' to 2010". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved August 1, 2008. 
  12. ^ a b c Graser, Marc (May 20, 2008). "Jake Gyllenhaal is Disney's 'Prince'". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  13. ^ a b c d "Jake Gyllenhaal as 'the Prince of Persia'". Entertainment Tonight (CBS Television Distribution). November 13, 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2008. [dead link]
  14. ^ "Gemma Arterton Interview". L.P. November 12, 2008. Retrieved November 13, 2008. 
  15. ^ Graser, Marc (June 5, 2008). "Ben Kingsley joins 'Prince of Persia'". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  16. ^ Fleming, Michael (June 2, 2008). "Alfred Molina joins 'Prince of Persia'". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  17. ^ Floyd, Bobbie. "Toby Kebbell interview". Little White Lies. Retrieved January 8, 2009. [dead link]
  18. ^ Jaafar, Ali (March 6, 2008). "Newell takes 'Persia' to Morocco". Variety (Reed Business Information). Retrieved July 14, 2008. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ Marques, Diego (April 1, 2010). "Alanis Morissette grava música para o filme "Prince of Persia", ouça" (in French). Retrieved February 10, 2013. 
  21. ^ Prince of Persia on, Prince of Persia on
  22. ^ "Jerry Bruckheimer Debuts ‘Prince of Persia’ Poster Within His Own Film, ‘Confessions Of A Shopaholic". MTV Movies Blog (Viacom). January 25, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
  23. ^ "Disney and LEGO Group Announce Strategic Licensing Relationship". PR Newswire. February 15, 2009. Retrieved February 15, 2009. 
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ "ARCHIVE CHART". Retrieved January 4, 2011. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ a b "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Times reviews at Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN. Retrieved 2010-06-09. 
  30. ^ "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Times reviews at". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2010-05-21. 
  31. ^ Ebert, Roger. "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time :: :: Reviews". (Sun-Time Media Group). Retrieved May 28, 2010. 
  32. ^ "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Times Review". Relevant Magazine. 
  33. ^ "'Prince of Persia' weaker than hoped for in foreign debut". Los Angeles Times. May 24, 2010. 
  34. ^ UPDATE 2-'Sex' less scintillating at box office
  35. ^ "'Prince' reigns over 'Sex' and 'Shrek' worldwide". The Independent (London). May 31, 2010. 

External links[edit]