Anyone remember a little movie called Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time? The 2010 movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal sought to adapt the famed video game of the same name, but became one of Disney’s failed franchise starters when it hit theaters. Funny enough though, Gyllenhaal’s latest project, a children’s book called The Society of Aunts and Uncles, has a little nod to the action movie that famously flopped, because why not?
Jake Gyllenhaal teamed up with one of his best friends, Greta Caruso, to write The Society of Aunts and Uncles, which tells a sweet story of an adventure between a 10-year-old named Leo and his Uncle Mo. It's inspired by the actor’s own loving relationship as an uncle to his sister Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard’s two kids.
While looking through all the beautiful illustrations of the book, one might notice at one point Leo is holding a Playbill with a skeleton on the cover with the show titled “The Persians." When Gyllenhaal was asked about the little easter egg, he said this to Entertainment Weekly:
That was Dan Santat. He snuck that in before printing, and I didn't approve that. I don't know where that came from. Dan likes to put in his bits of humor, even misspelling my name at the back and having to put a post-it, having two A's at the end. But no, when I described that space, it was the space where there was no farther down to go than the depths of where Leo is in that moment in the book. So I guess that was Dan's joke on me.
Per Gyllenhaal, the little nod to Prince of Persia in his first children’s book was the product of the illustrator having a blast injecting some jokes into his art here and there. It’s a funny jab to keep the actor humble, and he commented, though I’m sensing some sarcasm, the artwork perhaps snuck past him. That’s not the only joke to be found in the book, there’s also another one that plays around with the last name Gyllenhaal and its pronunciation, too.
Prince of Persia might be the actor’s biggest flop, between the Disney movie costing the studio a reported $200 million to make and its box office haul equating to $336 million worldwide. For context, movies typically need to make 2.5 times its budget in order to break even.
The studio hoped for the action movie to become their next Pirates of the Caribbean, but instead, it scored Disney its worst Memorial Day weekend box office total. It also doesn’t help that the movie didn’t impress either critics or audiences either. CinemaBlend’s own Prince of Persia review gave the movie a 2.5 out of 5 stars, saying it has “no sense of wonder” among other comments.
Gyllenhaal’s The Society of Aunts and Uncles is on bookshelves and Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time is available to stream with a Disney+ subscription. Next up, the actor is set to star in a Road House remake, which has been filmed and is expected to come out soon.