This article is about the 2010 Walt Disney film adaptation. You may be looking for the 2003 game by Ubisoft Montreal.

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is a live-action adaptation based on the 2003 video game of the same name developed by Ubisoft Montreal. It was released on May 28th, 2010 and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer for Walt Disney Pictures. The story was written by Jordan Mechner and re-written into a screenplay by Boaz Yakin, Doug Miro, and Carlo Bernard. The Sands of Time was directed by Mike Newell (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire).

Official Description

"Set in the mystical lands of Persia, PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME is an epic action-adventure about a rogue prince (JAKE GYLLENHAAL) and a mysterious princess (GEMMA ARTERTON) who race against dark forces to safeguard an ancient dagger capable of releasing the Sands of Time—a gift from the gods that can reverse time and allow its possessor to rule the world."
—Official Description



Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a street rat turned prince in sixth century Persia who must join forces with Tamina (Gemma Arterton), one of the guardians of the Sandglass of Time, to prevent his uncle Nizam (Ben Kingsley) from possessing the powers of the Sands of Time. The Sands of Time are a "gift" from the Gods that give its wielder the power to reverse time and rule the world.


Dastan, a street urchin, rescues another orphan in front of the King of Persia. His "royal spirit" leads to his royal adoption. Fifteen years later, he finds the Dagger of Time that can rewind time or destroy the world. Princess Tamina, ruler of Alamut is an appointed Guardian. Nizam, brother to the King, wants the Dagger and the throne, to become the most powerful ruler ever.

Dastan starts as a street urchin in Nasaf. After showing courage in the market place baffel, King Sharaman adopts him as his third son, after eldest heir Tus (Richard Coyle) and second Garsiv (Toby Kebbell). 

Fifteen years later, the brothers lead the Persian army against the sacred city of Alamut. Against Sharaman's wishes, while he is praying, his brother and adviser Nizam, has wrongly convinced the three that Alumet is making and selling weapons to Persia's enemies. As Garsiv attaks the main gate, Dastan leads a squad with his best childhood friend Bis (Reece Ritchie) and opens the eastern gate "to save lives".

Princess Tamina sends the sacred Dagger away, but the rider heads straight for Dastan. He finds the wrapped Dagger on the ground after killing his attacker.  The Dagger sends whoever presses the top of the handle back in time. The holder sees events rewind. Only he knows what happened. The power ends when the sand in the handle runs out. 

Victorious Tus wants to marry Tamina as soon as he discovers her beauty, admiring her spirit as she attempts to stab him. He begs Dastan to present his wish for another wife to their father, and gives him a captured grand cloak for their father as a convincing present. Dastan is reluctant, Tus already has wives, indeed  King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) agrees, and offers Tamina to Dastan. The cloak is poisoned, burns Sharaman to death. Bystanders accuse Dastan, who flees with Tamina while Bis and many of Dastan's men are killed covering their escape

Together, flirting and fighting, exchanging  cutting banter, they embark on a journey — the Prince wants to prove his innocence, while Tamina wants to safeguard the Dagger of Time. On the first night, Tamina attempts to kill Dastan and recover the Dagger, but he  accidentally activates the handle, learns of the power, and stops her attack. Dastan believes Tus knew about the Dagger and framed him for murder, to  seize the throne and Dagger,  becoming the most powerful ruler of Persia.

In a skeleton-decorated village, the duo encounter ostrich racer-organizer Sheik Amar (Alfred Molina) and loyal friend Seso (Steve Toussaint) from the Ngbaka, masters of throwing knives. Dastan offers Tamina as a slave in return for travel supplies and safe passage. One bandit grabs the Dagger of Time as a pretty trinket. Amar ties Dastan down for the  large reward. When Tamina chases the Dagger, both escape in the confusion.

Dastan wants to return for King Sharaman's funeral, and Tamina tags along. Attempting to convince Nizam of his innocence, he presents the wrapped Dagger as proof, but Tamina got the Dagger away. Seeing the burns on Nizam's hands, Dastan realizes Nizam did not touch the cloak in his presence but previously, thus the murderer. Resisting an ambush with acrobatics and clashing swords, even axe-throwing Garsiv, Dastan escapes.

Dastan catches up with Tamina and explains that Nizam masterminded the attack on her city to get the Dagger. She explains a massive Sandglass holding all the Sands of Time is hidden underneath. A pure-hearted girl offered her life so angry gods would not to punish sinful humanity and seal the Sands in the Sandglass. Breaking the Sandglass, releasing all the Sands, would destroy the world.

Dastan remembers his father's favorite story, his brother's rescue from a lion while hunting. To allow the death in childhood would prevent all the Princes from being born, and make Nizam King of Persia for his entire life. Dastan agrees to help her protect the Dagger.

Meanhile, back in Persia, Nizam, aware that Dastan knows he was responsible, tries to convince the newly-crowned King Tus and Garsiv that Dastan is trying to overthrow them and must be killed without a trial to avoid a rebellion. When this fails, Nizam sends his secret magical snake-equipped Hassansins, elite warriors forbidden by Sharaman.

Amar, angry at the 2-day riot that destroyed his track and left one "suicidal" ostrich, again captures our heroes.  When everyone is asleep, the Hassansin leader recognizable by his dead eyes, attacks in an oasis] with vipers. Many die, but Dastan uses the dagger to rewind time, kills all the snakes single-handedly, saving Seso and winning his gratitude, the same servitude that indentures him to Amar. The Hassansins leave as they arrived, in whirling sand dervishes.

Next day, the now friendly group, encouraged by Tamina's tales of temple gold, follow paths "every princess must learn" to the mountain sanctuary, where the Dagger can be safely sealed in the stone where it came from. Tamina, as an official Guardian, intends to fulfill the original girl's sacrifice, but Garsiv attacks. Dastan persuades his brother of his innocence, but Hassassin spikes take Garsiv down, and their Leaders trained snake swallows the Dagger.

Tamina, Dastan, Amar and Seso, return to Alamut to expose Nizam and retrieve the Dagger. The Dagger is guarded in a temple by a Hassansin, so Seso is the natural choice of opponent, but is fatally wounded in combat. Before succumbing to a chest full of spikes, Seso throws the Dagger out the window to Amar. He distracts the guards while Dastan kills himself to prove the Dagger's power and his truth to Tus. 

Tus rewinds time to revive Dastan, but Nizam then slices his throat, and leaves with the Dagger. Tamina distracts the guard on Dastan, and sees the hand mark for a Temple official. The dead guard was the traitor who told Nizam about the Dagger.

Nizam descends by pulley to the Sandglass caves beneath Alamut, while Dastan and Tamina race through secret underground passageways, booby-trapped. Dastan follows carefully in her footsteps, but a stray pebble falls from the roof, and the floor collapses. Dastan battles the Hassansin Leader, finally throwing him into the chasm. Dastan and Tamina slowly kiss.

They reach Nizam at the Sandglass stabbing in the Dagger. Tamina lets go of Dastan's hand, falls into the bottomless pit, so Dastan can hold onto the Dagger with Nizam. When Dastan presses the handle end as the Sandglass breaks and tries send out the Sands, everything whirls back to when Dastan first found the Dagger in the Alamut seige.

Dastan sees his best friend Bis alive again, uses his knowledge of the lost time to expose Nizam. Dastan gains his brothers' trust by repeating the exact words of Sharaman in private to Tus, as told to Dastan in the Lost Time where Tus was killed by Nazim. Exposed, Nizam stabs at Tus, but Dastan gets the villain first.

After apologizing for the ransacking of her city, Tus suggests that perhaps Tamina should marry Dastan as a sign of good will. The Prince gives her with the Dagger, gazing with knowing love, stumbling over his words, hinting they have a past and a destiny. She invites him to walk, asking how he has changed so suddenly. As in the Lost Time before, Dastan repeats "We make our own destiny", adding "We hardly know each other well enough, though I look forward to the day that we do".


Actor/Actress Character
Jake Gyllenhaal Dastan
Gemma Arterton Tamina
Ben Kingsley Nizam
Alfred Molina Sheik Amar
Richard Coyle Tus
Toby Kebbell Garsiv
Steve Toussaint Seso
Ronald Pickup Sharaman
Reece Ritchie Bis
Gísli Örn Garðarsson Zolm
Darwin Shaw Asoka


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."[1] Mechner previously considered producing an animated film based on the games, but could not resist Disney and Bruckheimer's offer.[2] In February 2006, Disney hired screenwriter Jeffrey Nachmanoff to write a new script for Prince of Persia.[3]

Early in 2007, Disney announced Prince of Persia as one of its tentpole film and by June had scheduled a release date for July 10, 2009, before having a final script or any actors attached.[4] 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.[5] Newell was fond of Bruckheimer's films,[6] 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.[7] 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.

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.[8] 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.[9] 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.


On May 20, 2008, it was announced that Jake Gyllenhaal would portray Dastan, the protagonist of the film. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer explained his choice, "He's a wonderful actor. He's someone I've been watching for a long time and somebody I've always wanted to work with." Gyllenhaal claims he "over-prepared" for the role, gaining five or six pounds of muscle. 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." Gemma Arterton was announced to play the role of protagonist Tamina and Arterton reported she practiced horse back riding in Madrid before filming.[10] Sir Ben Kingsley was to portray the film's antagonist, Nizam.[11] Alfred Molina was to portray a character named Sheik Amar, who becomes a mentor to the prince.[12][13] The leading characters of the film all speak with a recognizable British English accent, albeit with a slight Middle Eastern color.


In March 2008, director Mike 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.[14] 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.[15] Eight weeks were spent in Morocco before the first unit moved to Pinewood.[16] The film is intended to be the first in a seven film series.


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.[17] 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.


Appearances in other Films

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and G Force poster appearances in Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009)

The Sands of Time 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.[18]

LEGO Merchandising

The week of Confessions of a Shopaholic’s release, Disney signed a merchandising deal with Lego for the film.[19] Disney released merchandise such as action figures, LEGO sets, costumes and a replica Dagger of Time.

Comic Prequel

Main article: Prince of Persia: Before The Sandstorm

Published a month before the film's release (April 13, 2010), Prince of Persia: Before The Sandstorm was written by Jordan Mechner, and featured the art of Bernard Chang, Niko Henrichon, David Lopez, and Todd McFarlane. Before The Sandstorm, a prequel for The Sands of Time film, followed the story of five individuals, including Sheik Amar and Seso; all five characters, facing death by hanging, recount stories, with the possibility of a single thread or that connects them all: Dastan.


Main article: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (Score)

The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time score was written by composer Harry Gregson-Williams and released May 25, 2010. The score features music from the film and the official single of the film, written and composed by Alanis Morissette, "I Remain".

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.[20][21] 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.[22]

In the UK, it opened at number one on the DVD and Blu-ray charts during its first week.[23] In Germany, too, the DVD landed No. 1 on the country's DVD chart.[24]

Video Game

Main article: Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands

May 18, 2010, Ubisoft Montreal released the latest Prince of Persia game, titled Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands, to coincide with the May release the The Sands of Time film. However, instead of the traditional video game tie-in, The Forgotten Sands is unrelated to the film. Instead, the game is an interquel in The Sands of Time trilogy, set between 2003's The Sands of Time and 2004's Warrior Within.


The film received mixed reviews. Review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes reports that 36% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 209 reviews, with an average score of 5/10. 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." Another review aggregate, Metacritic, calculates an average rating based on reviews from mainstream critics, gave a score of 50/100.

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." 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."

Box Office

The film which—according to Disney and Bruckheimer, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was produced with the intention of becoming "the new Pirates of the Caribbean". The film 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 four-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.[25] Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time 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,[26] becoming the leader of the worldwide box office with $91,695,259, while reaching the #1 spot in 41 of the 47 countries.[27]

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.[28]

Whitewashing practices in Prince of Persia

Following the controversy of The Last Airbender director M. Night Shyamalan's decision to cast white actors in the Asian-influenced universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the foundation of, the casting practices Walt Disney Jerry Bruckheimer and Jerry Bruckheimer were brought under scrutiny.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Independent filmmaker, Jehanzeb Dar, who praised the original Prince of Persia game for using a Iranian protagonist, expressed his disappointment in the film's casting choice, citing: “It’s insulting that people of color — especially Middle Easterners or South Asians — are not allowed to portray ourselves in these roles. That’s a big problem a lot of people in the community are having with this film.”[29] Earlier, Dar expressed grievances with the whitewashing of the protagonist in the 2008 reboot.[30]

During an interview with theTimes of London, when the question of Gyllenhaal's whiteness was brought into question[31][32] Bruckheimer argued that, "Persians were very light skinned," he said. "The Turks kind of changed everything. But back in the 6th century, a lot of them were blond and blue-eyed."[29]

BoomGen Studios founder, Reza Aslan supported Bruckheimer's argument, citing, “Iranians are Aryans,” Aslan asserted. “If we went back in time 1,700 years to the mythological era, all Iranians would look like Jake Gyllenhaal.” Like-minded, actor Jake Gyllenhaal argued that Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time supported "slice of old-fashioned Hollywood fantasy, a bit of cinema escapism that’s as light in spirit as the vintage serials".[29] “To me, it’s not something I gave a lot of thought because all of it such a fantasy,” Gyllenhaal said during San Francisco’s WonderCon.[29]

Moye Ishimoto of the now defunct column, TheFeed, argues that because Prince of Persia creator, Jordan Mechner himself admitted that "he's never been to Iran nor is an expert on the culture"[33][34] that the gaming franchise itself may be just at fault for practices of whitewashing and exotification of the Middle East as the Sands of Time film itself.[33] Adding to the voices in protest, actress Ming-Na Wen noted on her twitter feed, "Didn't know that the Prince of Persia came from England & looks like a tanned white American. Hollywood teaches me something new everyday!"[35]

Upon the film's release, compiled over fifty major news outlets and the Associated Press reviews that criticized the film for its whitewashing practices.[36]

References to Prince of Persia games

Throughout the movie, many references are made to the games in the Sands of Time trilogy:
  • One of the Hassansins is shown using a chain whip weapon that resembles the Daggertail, a weapon used by the Dark Prince in The Two Thrones.
  • Tamina's knowledge of the Sands of Time and what they can do somewhat mirrors Farah from The Sands of Time.
  • Nizam's role in the film is similar to the Vizier's in The Sands of Time. Both are manipulators that try to get what they want with the Sands of Time.
  • Many of Dastan's outfits bear resemblance to the Prince's outfits throughout the games.
    • During the fight between Dastan and a soldier, his appearance mirrors that of the Prince's appearance at both the end of The Sands of Time and The Two Thrones.
    • During the takeover of Alamut, his appearance mirrors that of the Prince's appearance in Warrior Within.
  • When the Dagger of Time is used to turn back time, the half of the wielder's torso and arm that is holding the Dagger turn black with yellow tattoos running along it, which mirrors the Dark Prince in The Two Thrones.
  • During the attack on Alamut, Dastan stands on a short ledge as the camera pans around him, showing a panoramic of the city. This is a direct reference to the viewpoints cinematics in the Assassin's Creed video game series, the spiritual successor to the Prince of Persia franchise, both of which were developed by Ubisoft Montreal.


  • This film marks the second PG-13 rated movie under the Walt Disney Pictures label in the United States. The first was Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003).
  • The Hassassins are likely a reference to the Assassin's Creed series, also developed by Ubisoft, which is based off the concept of the "Hassassins".
  • In February 2008, Iranian star Golshifteh Farahani was invited to do a screen test in London along with Gemma Arterton for the role of Tamina but she was arrested at the airport by the Iranian authorities & banned from leaving the country for six months because she had played in Ridley Scott's Body of Lies (2008).
  • Rey-Phillip Santos was replaced by actor Toby Kebbell due to a motorcycle accident on location.
  • At the first UK screening at the Disney Roadshow, Director Mike Newell stated that he always wanted Jake Gyllenhaal for the part of Dastan (the two have known each other since Gyllenhaal was seven years old). He chose Gemma Arterton because of "how very old seeing the back of her beautiful neck" made him feel.
  • Before Jake Gyllenhaal was cast in the leading role, both Orlando Bloom and Zac Efron were rumored for the part.
  • Screenwriter Robin Morningstar approached the property owner Jordan Mechner with a script based on the original 1989 game of the franchise, the aim being working as a team to get a film made. He and his materials were abruptly exorcised before Disney bought the film rights to the series. The Disney film focuses on the much-later "Sands Of Time" story arc, whilst the game canon seemingly reboots well clear of its origins with a new game titled simply Prince Of Persia. Robin Morningstar's script, much like the original 1989 canon, is out in the cold. (This was referred to briefly during interview in Retro Gamer Magazine Issue #51.)






Behind the Scenes







Behind the Scenes

Behind the Scenes

External links


  1. Jerry preps game plan for 'Sands'
  2. SDCC 08: Mechner Talks Persia Movie
  3. Scribe goes into action for Disne
  4. Hollywood films' dating game
  5. Disney, Bruckheimer talking 'Prince'
  7. Early Prince of Persia Details
  8. Mouse Watch: Why did Disney push back "Prince of Persia"?
  9. Disney pushes 'Persia' to 2010
  10. Gemma Arterton Interview
  11. Ben Kingsley joins 'Prince of Persia'
  12. Alfred Molina joins 'Prince of Persia'
  13. Interview
  14. Newell takes 'Persia' to Morocco
  15. Jake Gyllenhaal is Disney's 'Prince'
  16. Jake Gyllenhaal as 'the Prince of Persia'
  17. Prince of Persia on, Prince of Persia on
  18. Jerry Bruckheimer Debuts ‘Prince of Persia’ Poster Within His Own Film, ‘Confessions Of A Shopaholic
  19. Disney and LEGO Group Announce Strategic Licensing Relationship
  20. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (UK)
  21. >Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (US)
  22. Prince of Persia DVD
  24. Prince of Persia DVD #2
  25. Los Angeles Times: 'Prince of Persia' weaker than hoped for in foreign debut
  26. UPDATE 2-'Sex' less scintillating at box office
  27. The Independent 'Prince' reigns over 'Sex' and 'Shrek' worldwide
  28. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 London of Times - Interview with Jerry Bruckheimer - webpage is now archived
  30. Prince of Persia: The Brother is Brown
  31. Times of London: "Isn't Gyllenhaal a bit pale to play a Persian?"
  32. London of Times - Interview with Jerry Bruckheimer - webpage is now archived
  33. 33.0 33.1 TheFeed: Whitewashing in Prince of Persia games
  34. Jordan - Prince of Persia
  35. Ming-Na Discovers That The Prince of Persia Is Apparently British
  36. Associated Press & over 50 other media outlets – Critics: ‘Airbender’ & ‘Prince’ were ‘whitewashed’

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