When Moviefone visited the set of 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,' the film was hurling through production, utilizing a whopping eight stages of London's famous Pinewood Studios, with plans being made to build sets on two more. There were a whopping three different crews shooting: a second unit filming a fight scene inside a castle, a third unit working on an intense, effects-heavy scene involving the Sands of Time dagger, and a first unit filming Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton inside the Alamut laundry room, where their characters have come in disguise looking for information. One thing was for sure: Disney wanted to turn this into its next big franchise, and the studio wasn't sparing any expense in order to make that happen.

Here are eight things we learned from the set that you can tuck back in your film-drunk brain as you get ready to watch 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' explode on screen this May 28th.

When Moviefone visited the set of 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,' the film was hurling through production, utilizing a whopping eight stages of London's famous Pinewood Studios, with plans being made to build sets on two more. There were a whopping three different crews shooting: a second unit filming a fight scene inside a castle, a third unit working on an intense, effects-heavy scene involving the Sands of Time dagger, and a first unit filming Jake Gyllenhaal and Gemma Arterton inside the Alamut laundry room, where their characters have come in disguise looking for information. One thing was for sure: Disney wanted to turn this into its next big franchise, and the studio wasn't sparing any expense in order to make that happen.

Here are eight things we learned from the set that you can tuck back in your film-drunk brain as you get ready to watch 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' explode on screen this May 28th.

1. It's Really Just About a Dysfunctional Family

With all the good guys, bad guys and big-budgeted special effects, it may be hard to spot that 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' is really just about a dysfunctional family. Dastan (Gyllenhaal) was just a lowly street urchin when he was adopted by the king as his heir so that the king's two sons didn't fight one another for the throne. However, problems arise when Dastan is framed for the king's murder, and he must team up with a feisty princess (Arterton) not only to clear his name, but also to rescue the valuable Sands of Time (a dagger filled with sand that controls time) from the villainous nobleman Nizam (Ben Kingsley), who's also the king's brother. And you thought you had a crazy uncle!

2. Wait, This is a Video Game Movie?

Yup, 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' is actually based on a very popular video game that's been around in various forms since 1989, believe it or not, when it entered the marketplace as 'Prince of Persia,' available for NES, Game Boy and a few other systems. Since 1989, there have been 13 different 'Persia'-related video games, concluding with this year's 'Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands,' which will return to the storyline established in the film.

'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' (the movie) is primarily based on the 2003 video game of the same name, though some elements of the film incorporate storylines from 'Warrior Within' (released in 2004) and 'The Two Thrones' (released in 2005).

3. A Lot of the Film was Shot on Location in Morocco in Over 100-Degree Heat


You'll see that the cinematography in the film is quite stunning, mainly because they shot a lot of the film on location in Morocco, and because the brilliant John Seale ('Rain Man,' 'The English Patient,' 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone') was the film's director of photography. From the hotter-than-hot sands of the desert to the mountain village of Oukmaiden where the altitude reached 8,200 feet, the production team braved some ridiculously overbearing situations in order to deliver the final film. While spectacular to watch on-screen, the shoot was incredibly tough on everyone because it was during the hottest time of the year, with temperatures reaching well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact, over 1 million bottles of water were consumed by the 'Prince of Persia' production during their time shooting in Morocco.

"Well, it got sort of progressively hotter as the shoot went on and we got further into the desert," said Gemma Arterton, who plays Princess Tamina. At one point, it was 58 degrees, which is 100 [Fahrenheit], something like that, but I was all right because I'm wearing clothes that were suitable, but the boys were all wearing ... you've seen some of the costumes: Leather and loads of black, and it was unbelievably hot, but alright. I quite like the heat, so I was OK. We were really sort of grateful to come home and be in a kind of controlled environment again, because we were also filming when Ramadan was on, and so all of the poor Moroccans that were working on the film, not being able to drink water in that heat and stuff. So it's incredible but it was an experience."



4. The Bad Guys Have Awesome Weapons

Obviously a big summer movie starring a big-time Hollywood actor has to also include some really big villains. And while we won't delve too far into spoilery territory, we can say that throughout the film Gyllenhaal's Prince Dastan is being hunted by a mysterious group of assassins called the Hissassins, who want to swipe the mystical Sands of Time dagger that Dastan has in his possession and use it for purposes that, oh, may destroy the world.

Richard Hooper was the man in charge of "The Armory" on the set of 'Prince of Persia,' which was a giant workshop full of all the different types of weapons used in the film, from Dastan's swords to Princess Tamina's tiny dagger. Things really got interesting, however, when Hooper showed off the Hissassins' weapons. Each member (there are four in total) specializes in a different type of weapon. The leader uses a sword that's double-edged and has axes on either side; the second Hissassin uses nathaleen-filled grenades that he lights by scratching them on his chest armor; the third Hissassin uses an assortment of nasty looking whips that have steel claws and spikes on the end; and the fourth Hissassin fights with a Trident complete with multiple spikes, while a device on his arm spits out steel darts.

Though the weapons used during fight sequences were all plastic and lighter than the heavy-duty weapons created for close-up shots, at the end of the day Jake Gyllenhaal still carried around up to 13 pounds of gear on his body at all times. Still think your school backpack is a pain to lug around?

5. It's Practically a Zoo on Set ... Literally

In order to bring the world of 'Prince of Persia' to life, several different types of animals were required. They ranged from snakes, donkeys, horses, camels and even ostriches. Yes, ostriches. In fact, the ostrich scene was one of the more talked-about on set, with the actors involved all amazed they managed to pull it off.

"There's a whole scene with ostriches in the movie. Real ostriches. Live ostriches. Not CGI," Gyllenhaal told us. "There is a not a CGI ostrich in this movie. They are all real ostriches. Highly paid. We were all briefed by them for weeks before. Like they're these massive destructive creatures who can tear your heart out with their claw. I swear to god. I never thought [they'd use a real] ostrich. And I got like ... I was shaking in my boots!"



6. Over 7,000 Costumes Were Created for the Film


Recreating the year 500 wasn't easy, and the production team spent six weeks researching clothing before they began creating costumes. 80 people were brought on to re-create "the flavor of the period" using drawings, paintings and pretty much whatever they could find detailing what people wore way back when (hint: they didn't exactly have Prada or The Gap). The result was over 7,000 costumes created from scratch, mostly using yards of fabrics that were then all dyed differently to give each background character a unique look. To put it in perspective, the 7,000-plus costumes more than doubled the amount of costumes created for the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movies. Take that, Captain Jack!

7. Jake Gyllenhaal is HUGE

One thing you might notice in 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time' is that this isn't exactly the Jake Gyllenhaal you're used to seeing. Case in point: the dude is huge -- and I mean huge, like he's got more muscles than any Prince I've ever seen. Gyllenhaal, who's known for his strict exercise routines off screen, stepped up his game considerably in order to get in the kind of shape needed for the role. Not only is there a decent amount of hand-to-hand combat and swordplay required, but with the production utilizing the crafty parkour fighting style (ie: running up walls, etc ...), even more training was necessary.

"Really, it's basically just a lot of training, working out with a lot of running and all different kinds of sports, " Gyllenhaal told us. "I'm someone who really doesn't love to be inside so just being outside and running around and training as if I was going to battle, but it also happens to be based on a video game so he has to very agile in a lot of other ways then you would normally ... it's not just gladiator-style fighting although we have all of that. It's also having to be able to jump up walls and climb up walls and run on walls and all of those things. Basically, simulating all that through training, so when I get to the day and someone comes up with an idea and they're like, "Hey, I think it would be a really great idea if you ran up that wall," I say, "OK."

8. Get Ready for Sequels

With 'Pirates of the Caribbean' churning out a fourth (and possibly final) installment, Disney is looking for a fun, exciting franchise to take its place. Will Prince of Persia be that franchise? It's definitely possible, since everyone on set was preparing for a part 2 while we were there -- going so far as to store sets, weapons, costumes and more in a warehouse in Los Angeles in case they're needed for the next 'Prince of Persia.'

Even though he hasn't worked this hard on a film throughout his entire career, Gyllenhaal certainly seemed up for the task when we asked him about any possible sequels. "Yes, the truth is after doing this it's going to be hard ... well, I don't know if it's going to be hard, but it's definitely going to be a different mentality to go back and do much smaller types of movies, but yeah, there's type of high when you make a movie like this, a type of excitement every day that is infectious," he said. "There are days that you get tired and some of the people I work with say to me, I'm like, "Man, I'm going to be exhausted. I'm going to need rest when I get done with this movie," and they're like, "You're going to rest for two weeks and you're going to want to make another one like it." [laughs] And it's kind of true. On my days off, I worked out twice on my Sunday off, because that's where my head is. I'm prepared for whatever comes our way."