During the Oscar season in early 1994 the Samuel Goldwyn company spent ten million dollars campaigning the film to garner Oscar nominations. They sent bulky packets to all members of the Academy, and played up the film, in hopes of getting it on the final ballot. The effort was all for naught; the film, though highly acclaimed and (unusually for William Shakespeare) a box-office hit, received no Oscar nominations.
A tricky sell to any studio, many felt that the reason the film got green-lit, was not so much because of Kenneth Branagh, or all-star cast, but because Keanu Reeves has a shirtless scene early in the film.
This is the first of Kenneth Branagh's Shakespearean films to have a pre-credits opening sequence. The only other such film is As You Like It (2006). The sequence is actually part of Scene I of the play.