'Richard III," due out Friday, is one of at least six films based on Shakespeare plays currently in various stages of production or release.
Castle Rock's production of "Othello," with Laurence Fishburne in the title role, Kenneth Branagh playing Iago and Irene Jacob as Desdemona, shot this past summer in Italy, opened two weeks ago.
This month Baz Luhrmann, who has directed opera in his native Australia as well as the film "Strictly Ballroom," begins a new film version of "Romeo and Juliet," with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, star of TV's "My So-Called Life."
Two eminent British theater directors are also offering Shakespeare films. The Royal Shakespeare Company's artistic director Adrian Noble debuts as a film director with "A Midsummer Night's Dream," featuring the current RSC cast. The film is funded in part by Britain's Channel 4 television, but will be distributed as a feature.
Trevor Nunn, former artistic director of Britain's National Theatre and director of such hit stage musicals as "Cats" and "Les Miserables," will soon start directing "Twelfth Night."
Branagh, who started the vogue for Shakespeare films virtually single-handedly with his versions of "Henry V" and "Much Ado About Nothing," embarks early next year on the most ambitious film of all: a full-length, three-hour version of "Hamlet," with himself as the Prince of Denmark.