Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (film)

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mike Newell
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Screenplay by
Story by Jordan Mechner
Based on Prince of Persia
by Jordan Mechner
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 $150–$200 million[1]
Box office $336.4 million[2]

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a 2010 American 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 on May 28, 2010. 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 was premiered in London on May 5, 2010 and was officially released on May 28, 2010 in the United States. It received mixed reviews from critics, and grossed over $336 million against a production budget of $150–200 million.


Dastan, a street urchin in Persia, is adopted by king Sharaman after showing courage in the marketplace. Fifteen years later, Sharaman's brother Nizam receives proof that the holy city of Alamut is supplying weapons to Persian enemies, and the princes — Dastan, along with the king's biological sons Tus and Garsiv — are sent to siege and take over Alamut. Dastan and his friends breach into the city on their own, and open a gate letting the Persians in. During the attack, Dastan fights a guard for Alamut's royal family and takes from him a special dagger.

Alamut falls to the Persians, but princess Tamina denies the town having any weapon forges. Tus asks her to marry him to unite the two nations, and she only accepts after seeing the dagger in Dastan's possession. During the celebration, Dastan is fooled into presenting a poisoned gown seemingly given to him by Tus to King Sharaman, which fatally burns the king. Garsiv accuses Dastan of being the murderer, and the prince is forced to escape, carrying Tamina along. Tus is appointed king and orders a manhunt on Dastan.

While in hiding, Tamina attempts to kill Dastan, and in the struggle the prince discovers the dagger enables its wielder to travel back in time. Dastan then believes that Tus invaded Alamut for the dagger, and decides to confront his brother at the funeral of the king in Avrat. On the way, the two are captured by merchant-bandits led by Sheik Amar, who recognized and attempted to take him back to Persia for the reward money, but they manage to escape. After arriving in Avrat, Dastan tries to convince his uncle Nizam that he was not the cause of his father's death, only to discover the dagger was taken by Tamina. Instead, he notices the burns on Nizam's hands, which indicate he was the one who set up the murder of the King. Furthermore, Nizam has set up an ambush for Dastan along the Persian streets, and after a conflict with his brother Garsiv, Dastan escapes. Nizam sends a group of covert and seemingly mystical warriors, the Hassansins, to kill Dastan and find the dagger.

During a sandstorm, Tamina tells Dastan the origins of the Sands of Time that enable the dagger's time travel, while admitting the weapon only holds enough sand to reverse time by one minute. Dastan realizes that Nizam’s plan is to place the dagger in the sandglass holding the Sands of Time, causing Nizam to go back in time and prevent himself from saving Sharaman’s life from a lion as children so that he'll be king of Persia. Tamina says that in doing so, the sandglass would be broken and destroy the world. After the two are captured by Sheik Amar, and Dastan saves Amar's men from an Hassansin attack using the dagger, the Sheik is convinced to carry both to a sanctuary near India, where the dagger could be sealed by returning it to the stone it once came from. At the sanctuary, they are found by Garsiv, whom Dastan convinces of his innocence but are later ambushed by the Hassansins. Garsiv sacrifices himself to save Dastan, while Tamina is knocked unconscious by a Hassansin and the dagger is stolen.

Dastan's group travels back to Alamut to retrieve the dagger from Nizam and tell Tus the truth. Amar's right hand man Seso dies getting the dagger back to Dastan, and the prince demonstrates the weapon's powers to Tus to convince his brother. Afterwards Nizam walks in, kills Tus, and takes the dagger back. Tamina saves Dastan from being killed and the two head for secret underground tunnels that lead to the sandglass. When they reach Nizam, he stabs the sandglass and throws the both of them off a cliff. Dastan holds on to it with one arm and Tamina with the other. Tamina then sacrifices herself so that Dastan can stop Nizam. The two fight and when Dastan removes the dagger from the sandglass, time is reset to the moment Dastan found the dagger, causing all of the previous events to never have happened. Dastan finds Tus and Garsiv and exposes Nizam's betrayal. Nizam attempts to kill Dastan, but is subdued and then killed by Tus.

Tus apologizes to Tamina and proposes that their two nations bond by her marrying Dastan. Dastan returns the dagger to Tamina as an engagement gift and tells her he looks forward to their future together as she takes his hand.




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 recognisable English accents.


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.

Home media

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

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time holds a 36% 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

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. The film overtook previous record holder, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider as the highest-grossing video game adaptation of all time, before it was surpassed by Warcraft in 2016.

See also


  1. Collett-White, Mike (May 11, 2010). "Gyllenhaal ready for 'Prince of Persia' sequel". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 15, 2010. Retrieved November 3, 2010. Estimates of "Prince of Persia's" production budget range from $150 million-$200 million.
  2. "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. 1 2 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. 1 2 3 Graser, Marc (May 20, 2008). "Jake Gyllenhaal is Disney's 'Prince'". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
  13. 1 2 3 4 "Jake Gyllenhaal as 'the Prince of Persia'". Entertainment Tonight. CBS Television Distribution. November 13, 2008. Archived from the original on December 4, 2008. Retrieved November 14, 2008.
  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. Archived from the original on October 23, 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2009.
  18. Jaafar, Ali (March 6, 2008). "Newell takes 'Persia' to Morocco". Variety. Reed Business Information. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
  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.
  27. "ARCHIVE CHART". Retrieved January 4, 2011.
  29. 1 2 "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.
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