Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (film)

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a 2010 American action fantasy film directed by Mike Newell from a screenplay by Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard, based on the video game series Prince of Persia created by Jordan Mechner. The film stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, Gemma Arterton, and Alfred Molina. It is an adaptation of the 2003 video game of the same name published by Ubisoft. Elements from its sequels Warrior Within and The Two Thrones are also incorporated.

Prince of Persia:
The Sands of Time
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMike Newell
Screenplay by
Story byJordan Mechner
Based onPrince of Persia
by Jordan Mechner
Produced byJerry Bruckheimer
CinematographyJohn Seale
Edited by
Music byHarry Gregson-Williams
Distributed byWalt 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
CountryUnited States
Budget$150–200 million[1]
Box office$336.4 million[2]

The film premiered in London on May 9, 2010, and was released theatrically in the United States on May 28 by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. It received mixed reviews from critics, who shared the consensus that the film was an improvement over previous video game adaptations and gave praise to the score, action scenes, humor, and the acting performances, while showing negative attention towards the screenplay, whitewashing of the cast, and departure from the source material.[3] It grossed over $336.4 million against a production budget of $150–200 million, and was the highest-grossing video game film adaptation until it was surpassed by Warcraft in 2016.[4]

Plot edit

Dastan, a street urchin in Persia, is adopted by King Sharaman after showing courage. Fifteen years later, the king's brother Nizam relays evidence to the princes—Dastan, along with the king's biological sons Tus and Garsiv—that the holy city of Alamut is forging weapons for Persia's enemies. Tus directs the Persian army to capture Alamut. During the attack, Dastan defeats a royal guard and obtains a sacred dagger from him.

Alamut falls to the Persians, but Princess Tamina denies that the city has 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. At their celebratory banquet, Tus has Dastan give their father an embroidered robe. However, the robe is poisoned, fatally burning Sharaman. Garsiv accuses Dastan of the king's murder. Dastan escapes with Tamina, and Tus is appointed king and a bounty on Dastan's head is set.

While in hiding, Tamina attempts to kill Dastan and steal the dagger, and in the struggle, Dastan discovers the dagger enables the wielder to travel back in time. Believing Tus invaded Alamut for the dagger, Dastan decides to confront his brother. On the way, the two are captured by merchant-bandits led by Sheik Amar who seeks the reward money, but they manage to escape. After arriving in Avrat, Dastan tries to convince Nizam of his innocence. Seeing burns on Nizam's hands, Dastan realizes that Nizam orchestrated the king's murder. Dastan is forced to escape once again. Nizam sends a group of covert warriors, the Hassansins, to kill Dastan and find the dagger.

Tamina later tells Dastan that long ago, the gods unleashed a great sandstorm to destroy humanity but were moved by a young girl's offer to sacrifice herself in humanity's place and trapped the Sands of Time in a large sandglass. Tamina is the latest guardian of the dagger, given to the young girl by the gods, which can pierce the sandglass and potentially destroy the world. Nizam intends to travel back to his childhood, prevent himself from saving Sharaman from a lion attack and become King of Persia in his place. Amar captures the two again, but Dastan saves Amar's men from a Hassansin attack using the dagger. This convinces Amar to escort them to a sanctuary near the Hindu Kush, where Tamina will seal the dagger within the stone it first came from. At the sanctuary, Garsiv appears, whom Dastan convinces of his innocence. However, the Hassansins ambush them, killing Garsiv and stealing the dagger.

Dastan's group travels back to Alamut to steal back the dagger and warn Tus of Nizam. Amar's right-hand man, Seso, dies retrieving the dagger for Dastan, who demonstrates its powers to Tus and convinces him of the truth. Nizam interrupts them, kills Tus, and takes the dagger back. Tamina saves Dastan from being killed, and the two head for the secret tunnels beneath the city that lead to the sandglass. They reach Nizam, who stabs Dastan and throws them off a cliff. Tamina sacrifices herself, releasing Dastan's hand and falling to her death. This allows him to fight Nizam.

Nizam thrusts the dagger into the column of sandglass under the temple. Dastan grabs hold of the hilt of the dagger together with Nizam; as sand is released from the sandglass, time rewinds to the moment Dastan finds the dagger. He finds Tus and Garsiv and exposes Nizam's treachery. Nizam tries to kill Dastan, who easily defeats him. Nizam gets up and attempts to attack again but is subdued and killed by Tus. Tus apologizes to Tamina for the siege and proposes to strengthen the two nations' bond by marital alliance of the princess to Dastan. Dastan returns the dagger to Tamina as an engagement gift and tells her he looks forward to their future together.

Cast edit

Production edit

Development edit

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 to do a straight adaptation of the video game, they took some elements from the game and used them to craft a new story.[5] Mechner previously considered producing an animated film based on the games, but could not resist Disney and Bruckheimer's offer.[6] In February 2006, Disney hired screenwriter Jeffrey Nachmanoff to write a new script for Prince of Persia.[7]

Early in 2007, Disney announced Prince of Persia 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.[8] By November, 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.[9] Newell was fond of Bruckheimer's films,[10] 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.[11] 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.[6]

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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14] Gyllenhaal claims he "over-prepared"[15] for the role, gaining five or six pounds of muscle.[15] Gemma Arterton was cast to play the role of protagonist Tamina,[14] and Arterton practiced horse back riding in Madrid before filming.[16] Ben Kingsley was cast to portray the film's antagonist, Nizam.[17] Alfred Molina was cast to portray a character named Sheik Amar, who becomes a mentor to the prince.[18] Toby Kebbell was cast to play Prince Garsiv, Dastan's brother and head of the Persian army.[19]

Filming edit

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.[20] By May, 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 in Morocco as well as London.[14] Eight weeks were spent in Morocco before the first unit moved to Pinewood.[15] 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.[21]

Soundtrack edit

Alanis Morissette composed the theme song for the film, named "I Remain".[22] The score was written by composer Harry Gregson-Williams and was released through Walt Disney Records on May 25, 2010.[23]

Release edit

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, 2010, then premiered on May 19 in Italy, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland, and on May 20 in Germany.[24] 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.

Marketing edit

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 posters for various developed but never filmed projects based on their comic characters in I Am Legend.[25] The week of Confessions of a Shopaholic's release, Disney signed a merchandising deal with Lego for the film.[26]

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 acts 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, but 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 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. 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 2011.[27]

In the UK, it opened at number one on the DVD and Blu-ray charts during its first week.[28] In Germany, too, the DVD landed No. 1 on the country's DVD chart.[29]

Reception edit

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 European countries.[30] It 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,[31] becoming the leader of the worldwide box office with $91,695,259, while reaching the #1 spot in 41 of the 47 countries.[32] 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 the 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.

Critical response edit

On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the film holds a 37% rating based on 229 reviews, with an average score of 5.1/10. 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".[33] Metacritic, which calculates an average rating based on reviews from mainstream critics, gave a score of 50 out of 100, based on 38 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[34] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[35]

Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert gave the film two stars out of four and was critical to Gyllenhaal's and Arterton's performance as Dastan and Tamina, respectively.[36] Film critic David Roark of Relevant Magazine gave the film a positive review and wrote that "Newell has unquestionably accomplished what he set out to do, which is ridiculous, silly and forgettable, but amusing nonetheless".[37]

In a 2019 interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Gyllenhaal expressed his regret with the film: "I think I learned a lot from that movie in that I spend a lot of time trying to be very thoughtful about the roles that I pick and why I'm picking them. And you're bound to slip up and be like, 'That wasn't right for me,' or 'That didn't fit perfectly.' There have been a number of roles like that. And then a number of roles that do."[38]

Canceled sequels edit

The film was intended to be the start of a new franchise, similar to the Pirates of the Caribbean films, as a swashbuckling adventure series. The disappointing box office returns, combined with mediocre reviews and dissipating interest in the games, led to any sequel plans being abandoned.[39]

See also edit

References edit

  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. Archived from the original on May 8, 2022. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  3. ^ "Jake Gyllenhaal "Learned a Lot" from Prince of Persia Whitewashing Backlash". Vanity Fair. July 2019. Archived from the original on February 11, 2021. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  4. ^ "All Time Worldwide Box Office Grosses". Archived from the original on July 28, 2019. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  5. ^ Bing, Jonathan; Cathy Dunkley (March 3, 2004). "Jerry preps game plan for 'Sands'". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on January 30, 2009. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
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  7. ^ Gardner, Chris (February 26, 2006). "Scribe goes into action for Disney". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on May 15, 2010. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
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  9. ^ Fleming, Michael (November 7, 2007). "Disney, Bruckheimer talking 'Prince'". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on September 13, 2010. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
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  12. ^ Hill, Jim (August 10, 2008). "Monday Mouse Watch: Why did Disney push back "Prince of Persia"?". Jim Hill Media. LLC. Archived from the original on March 22, 2023. Retrieved October 12, 2008.
  13. ^ McClintock, Pamela (July 31, 2008). "Disney pushes 'Persia' to 2010". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on January 4, 2009. Retrieved August 1, 2008.
  14. ^ a b c Graser, Marc (May 20, 2008). "Jake Gyllenhaal is Disney's 'Prince'". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on July 13, 2008. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
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  20. ^ Jaafar, Ali (March 6, 2008). "Newell takes 'Persia' to Morocco". Variety. Reed Business Information. Archived from the original on April 10, 2008. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
  21. ^ "D23 Expo: Prince of Persia Not in 3D (UPDATE)". September 13, 2009. Archived from the original on January 22, 2021. Retrieved June 17, 2019.
  22. ^ Marques, Diego (April 1, 2010). "Alanis Morissette grava música para o filme "Prince of Persia", ouça" (in French). Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  23. ^ "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time Soundtrack (2010)".
  24. ^ Prince of Persia Archived November 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine on, Prince of Persia Archived January 24, 2010, at the Wayback Machine on
  25. ^ "Jerry Bruckheimer Debuts 'Prince of Persia' Poster Within His Own Film, 'Confessions Of A Shopaholic". MTV Movies Blog. Viacom. January 25, 2009. Archived from the original on January 29, 2009. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
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  39. ^ "Prince of Persia 2 Updates: Will the Jake Gyllenhaal Sequel Happen?". Screen Rant. March 21, 2020. Archived from the original on August 22, 2022. Retrieved August 22, 2022.

External links edit