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April 14, 2014

How many movies based on Shakespeare plays are there?

movies based on ShakespeareThis week I haven’t had a great deal of time to produce in-depth research so here instead is something a bit lighter than my normal fare. I took a look at the number of movies based on Shakespeare plays. In summary…

  • There are 525 films which give Shakespeare some sort of writing credit
  • Of those, 294 are full adaptations of Shakespeare plays
  • Hamlet is the most often adapted Shakespeare play
  • Over half of all Shakespeare feature film adaptations are based on Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth or Othello.

Of the movies based on Shakespeare, which plays are most frequently adapted?

In total, there are 525 feature films which give William Shakespeare some form of writing credit. Looking in more detail at these films I found 294 films which are full feature film adaptations of Shakespeare plays. The number of movies based on Shakespeare plays 1898-2013

What counts as an adaptation?

Wikipedia currently lists 410 Shakespeare adaptations, crediting the fact the Guinness Book of World Records, whereas IMDb lists 1,095 projects which credit William Shakespeare in some way.  These IMDb projects including not movie items (short films, TV shows, games, etc). for the research above I personally went through the projects, assessing what was a feature film and a valid adaptation.

Even the simplest statistical exercise, such as this, ends up presenting tough choices. In this case I had to decide what counted as an adaptation. I included direct adaptations (such as Romeo + Juliet) and more liberal adaptations (such as 10 Things I Hate About You and West Side Story which were based on Taming of the Shrew and Romeo and Juliet). I excluded films which didn’t directly credit the original screenplay story to Shakespeare (such as The Lion King, which is loosely based on Hamlet) and films which included elements of Shakespeare’s writing such as sonnets and lyrics.

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7 Responses

  1. Marissa November 30, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    Do you have the list of movies you deemed “valid adaptations?”
    I’m curious; of those movies, how many used original scripts (Romeo + Juliet) versus modern adaptations (West Side Story)?

  2. Sp4mL0rd September 17, 2017 at 12:48 am #

    I can only find 8 each for Merchant of Venice and Julius Caesar. What are the others that u found?

  3. 213 March 18, 2018 at 4:32 am #

    I can’t find the whole list of movies inspired by Hamlet…

    Can you give some?


  1. (Ch. 4) Adaptations A-Z – The GWU Film Critic - September 26, 2016

    […] Follows, S. (2014, April 4). How many movies based on Shakespeare plays are there? Retrieved from […]

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