During the Oscar season in early 1994 the Samuel Goldwyn company spent $10 million campaigning the film to garner the film Oscar nominations. They sent bulky packets to all members of the academy and played up the film in hopes of getting their film 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 whatsoever.
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.
A tricky sell to any studio, many felt that the reason the film got greenlit was not so much because of its director or all star cast but because Keanu Reeves has a nude scene within the first five minutes.