Riz Ahmed's 'Hamlet' Finally Lands Distribution Deal

Riz Ahmed as Nasir Khan in prison in 'The Night Of'

Riz Ahmed as Nasir Khan in 'The Night Of'


It was only a couple of days ago that we discussed how hard it is to determine which projects that come to the Cannes market will be made and which ones are just fantasy packages in search of a funder. Those that already exist as finished projects have a leg up; after all, they exist; someone just needs to agree to put up the money to get them into theaters and sometimes existing is what makes the difference. Take, for example, Riz Ahmed's Hamlet project, a "Cannes Market Hot Package" in 2022, an idea on paper, with Ahmed set to lead. Morfydd Clark (then still only a BAFTA Rising Star nominee), who was attached to co-star and Taylor Swift's then-boyfriend Joe Alwyn, was also said to be interested.

At the time, the project didn't move the needle, and the Hamlet film disappeared from the trades; only Ahmed kept it alive, bringing it up in interviews whenever he could. Two years later, the film is a completed piece. Variety is reporting it's finally got a distributor who will be releasing it globally in the NBC Universal indie arm Focus Features, which most Anglophiles know as the studio that does the Downton Abbey films.

According to Variety, the new adaptation of Shakespeare, directed by Aneil Karia, wrapped filming towards the end of 2023, and Focus Features boarded the project sometime between then and now. However, the company only announced its involvement this week to coincide with Cannes, suggesting that the plan is to make an awards run with it for the 2024 fall season.

Here’s is the film’s synopsis:

In this latest interpretation of Hamlet, Ahmed plays the titular lead, a man haunted by his father’s ghost who moves from elite London to the city’s underground, from Hindu temples to homeless tent cities. He embarks on a violent journey to avenge his father’s murder, ultimately questioning his own role in the family’s corruption.

Ahmed is indeed joined by Morfydd Clark (Murder Is Easy) as Ophelia and Joe Alwyn (Taylor Swift’s Now Ex-Boyfriend) as Laertes. Other cast rumored to be involved include Timothy Spall (The Sixth Commandment) as Polonius, Art Malik (Renegade Nell) as Claudius, and Sheeba Chaddha (The Trial) as Gertrude.

The film was penned by Michael Lesslie, who recently did the Michael Fassbender Macbeth. Since no funder was picked up at Cannes at the time, Ahmed produced Hamlet himself on behalf of his production company, Left-Handed Films, with Allie Moore, Jim Wilson, and Lesslie’s Storyteller Films.

Focus Features has not yet set a release date for Hamlet, but the film will likely be released before the end of 2024.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

A Woman's Place Is In Your Face. Cat Approved. Find her on BlueSky and other social media of your choice: @anibundel.bsky.social

More to Love from Telly Visions