A Hologram for the King (film)

Last updated

A Hologram for the King
A Hologram for the King poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tom Tykwer
Produced by
Screenplay byTom Tykwer
Based on A Hologram for the King
by Dave Eggers
Music by
Cinematography Frank Griebe
Edited byAlexander Berner
  • Playtone
  • X-Filme Creative Pool
  • Primeridian Entertainment
  • Silver Reel
Distributed by
Release date
Running time
97 minutes [1]
Budget$35 million [3] [4]
Box office$11.8 million [5]

A Hologram for the King is a 2016 comedy-drama film written, directed and co-scored by Tom Tykwer, based on the 2012 novel of the same name written by Dave Eggers, [6] [7] and starring Tom Hanks as a washed-up corporate salesman, who goes to Saudi Arabia to propose a business deal.


Sidse Babett Knudsen, Tom Skerritt and Sarita Choudhury also star in this international co-production between France, Germany, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, and the United States. [2] The film was released on April 22, 2016, by Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions and Saban Films.


Alan Clay (Tom Hanks) is a salesman for American tech company Relyand, who is sent to sell a holographic teleconferencing system to the Saudi government by overseeing a presentation for the King of Saudi Arabia. The only reason he was offered the job in Saudi Arabia was that he had once met a nephew of the King. Alan is haunted by his former job at bicycle manufacturer Schwinn where he was responsible for outsourcing production to China which led to several hundred people losing their jobs and, in the long run, the financial ruin of the company. He is also depressed because of a messy and costly divorce which leaves him destitute and unable to financially support his daughter Kit (Tracey Fairaway).

Oversleeping on the first day due to jet lag, he misses the shuttle bus to the King's Metropolis of Economy and Trade (a fictionalized version of King Abdullah Economic City), [8] where the sales presentation is to take place. He instead rents a car with a driver. The driver, Yousef (Alexander Black), tells him that he is in contact with a woman and her wealthy husband is jealous, leading Yousef to fear for his life.

After arriving at the development, Alan is informed that neither the King nor his direct contact, Karim Al-Ahmed (Khalid Laith), are there. He furthermore sees that his team is placed in a tent outside the office building where there is no working internet connection or food.

Over the following few days Alan repeatedly oversleeps and calls Yousef to drive him to the development, both becoming closer during the long drives. At the development, he is repeatedly put off and confined to the tent outside the office building. One day, he slips inside the building and meets Danish executive Hanne (Sidse Babett Knudsen). She is sympathetic to his plight but cannot help him get in contact with the King or Karim Al-Ahmed. She offers him some olive oil, which Alan has missed since arriving in Saudi Arabia.

In the evening, Alan gets drunk using the alcohol obtained from Hanne, and tries to cut open a lump he had noticed earlier on his back. Waking the next day, covered with blood from the cut, he goes to a hospital where he meets his doctor, Zahra (Sarita Choudhury) resulting in an immediate connection. She performs a biopsy and asks him to return in a few days for the result.

After more days in the tent without progress in meeting the king or Karim Al-Ahmed, Alan is invited by Hanne to a party at the Danish consulate, where she tries to seduce him. Alan, however, rejects her advances.

The next day, having discovered that air conditioning in the tent has broken down, Alan becomes upset. He once again slips into the office building of the development and finally meets Karim Al-Ahmed. Alan tells Karim about all his grievances: the tent with improper air conditioning, bad internet connection and missing food. Karim ensures him that he will take care of the problems but cannot give him a date for the presentation to the King.

Shortly after, Alan has a panic attack in the hotel and, mistaking it for a stroke, calls Zahra and Yousef. Yousef, arriving shortly after Zahra, notices how close they are and, after she leaves, chastises Alan for endangering her by making advances to her, something Alan vehemently denies. Yousef then confesses that he fears even more for his life because the husband of the woman that Yousef is interested in has threatened him. He decides to flee to his home town over the weekend to let things cool down and Alan decides to go with him.

After returning from the trip with Yousef, Alan learns that his lump contains precancerous cells and should be removed the next day. When returning to the development, Alan notices that the technical problems have been taken care of and he is informed that the King will watch the presentation that day, which is successful. However, Alan sees the officials talking with a Chinese company who ultimately can offer a better product at a cheaper rate than Alan's company. It is implied that the government had always planned to make a deal with the Chinese, and knowingly wasted Alan's time. Afterwards, Alan again rejects Hanne's advances.

The next day, the operation begins with an unknown doctor but, at the last moment, Zahra takes over, to the delight of Alan. After the successful procedure, Alan and Zahra exchange increasingly personal and intimate e-mails which culminate in a secret meeting between the two. They talk about their families, with Zahra explaining that she has children and is also going through a messy divorce. They are driven to a beach house which belongs to Zahra where they go swimming and then have sex.

The film ends with Alan writing to Kit telling her that the deal did not happen but that he has taken a well-paid job in Saudi Arabia (implied to be selling office space and apartments in new developments) and that he has found a new positive force in his life (implied to be Zahra, with whom he has started a relationship).




On June 12, 2013, Tom Tykwer was reported to be developing an adaptation of 2012 novel A Hologram for the King , written by Dave Eggers. Tykwer wrote and directed the film, which stars Tom Hanks as the lead. The film was made by Playtone, Primeridian Entertainment, and X-Filme Creative Pool. [6] On September 5, 2013, Lotus Entertainment began licensing international rights to the film. [9] On March 6, 2014 it was announced that Sarita Choudhury, Alexander Black, Tracey Fairaway, David Menkin, and Tom Skerritt had joined the cast of the film. [10]

Tom Hanks on set, March 13, 2014. Tom Hanks On Set For A Hologram For The King .jpg
Tom Hanks on set, March 13, 2014.


Production was set to begin in first quarter of 2014. [9] Principal photography commenced on March 6, 2014 in Morocco. [11] Filming also took place in Hurghada in Egypt, as well as in Berlin and Düsseldorf in Germany. Shooting wrapped in June 2014. [12] [13]


Critical response

Writing for The New York Times , Stephen Holden called the movie "a story of confusion, perplexity, frustration and panic," praising Tom Hanks's ability to turn it into "an agreeably uncomfortable comedy," meriting a "Critic's Pick" designation. [14] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 72% based on 145 reviews and an average rating of 6.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A Hologram for the King amiably ambles through a narrative desert, saved by an oasis of a performance from the ever-dependable Tom Hanks." [15] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 59 out of 100 based on 30 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". [16]

Box office

The film grossed $1.1 million in its opening weekend, finishing 11th at the box office. With a total worldwide gross of $8,244,651 (U.S. domestic gross of $4,212,494), it is the lowest-grossing film to feature Tom Hanks in top billing since Every Time We Say Goodbye in 1986. [17]

Related Research Articles

Tom Hanks American actor, film producer and comedian

Thomas Jeffrey Hanks is an American actor, filmmaker and comedian. Known for both his comedic and dramatic roles, Hanks is one of the most popular and recognizable film stars worldwide, and is regarded as an American cultural icon. Hanks's films have grossed more than $4.9 billion in North America and more than $9.96 billion worldwide, making him the fourth-highest-grossing actor in North America.

Tom Tykwer

Tom Tykwer is a German film director, producer, screenwriter, and composer. He is best known internationally for directing the thriller films Run Lola Run (1998), Heaven (2002), Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (2006), and The International (2009). He collaborated with The Wachowskis as co-director for the science fiction film Cloud Atlas (2012) and the Netflix series Sense8 (2015–2018). Tykwer is also well known as the co-creator of the internationally acclaimed German television series Babylon Berlin.

Abd al-Aziz, frequently also transliterated Abdul-Aziz, is a male Arabic Muslim given name and, in modern usage, surname. It is built from the words ʽAbd, the Arabic definite article and ʽAzīz "Almighty". The name is commonly abbreviated as "ʽAzīz". The name means "servant of the Almighty", al-ʽAzīz being one of the names of God in Islam, which give rise to the Muslim theophoric names.

Sarita Choudhury British Indian actress

Sarita Catherine Louise Choudhury is an English actress, best known for her role in the Mira Nair-directed feature film Mississippi Masala (1992). In the late 1990s, Choudhury added to her repertoire with supporting roles in the thriller A Perfect Murder (1998), 3 A.M. (2001), and the John Cassavetes remake Gloria (1999). In 2002, she starred in Just a Kiss. She played a lesbian virgin in Spike Lee's She Hate Me (2004) and acted as Anna Ran in Lady in the Water, a 2006 thriller by M. Night Shyamalan. She also played Egeria in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015) and co-starred with Tom Hanks in the 2016 film A Hologram for the King.

Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is a member of House of Saud who served as deputy minister of interior from 1975 to 2012 and briefly as minister of interior in 2012. He was detained in March 2020 on the orders of his brother and nephew, King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed, respectively, and charged with treason.

Salman of Saudi Arabia Current King of Saudi Arabia from 2015

Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is King of Saudi Arabia and Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.

<i>The War Within</i> (film)

The War Within is a 2005 American drama film directed by Joseph Castelo and written by Ayad Akhtar, Castelo, and Tom Glynn. Distributed by HDNet Films and released by Magnolia Pictures, the film stars Ayad Akhtar, Firdous Bamji, Nandana Sen and Sarita Choudhury. The War Within premiered at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival.

Khaliji is a type of modern contemporary music characteristic of Central and Eastern Arabia and popular across the Arab world. It is characterized by heavy use of the oud and other string instruments such as the violin, the occasional use of bagpipes, and the inclusion of percussion instruments such as the mirwas, tabl, and duff drums. Khaliji incorporates elements of African, Indian, and Iranian music overlaying indigenous Arabian genres such as Samri, Liwa, and Sawt. Kuwait pioneered the Khaliji genre into its modern form in the second half of the 20th century and soon became the focal point of the industry in a fashion similar to Cairo and Beirut in the case of Arabic pop music. Kuwaitis, in addition to Saudis, were also among the first commercial recording artists and composers in the Persian Gulf region and the Khaliji scene continues to be dominated primarily by Saudi, Kuwaiti, and Bahraini artists and composers today.

The cinema of Saudi Arabia is a new flourishing industry that started in 2018 when the cinema theater ban was officially lifted and allowed to open at a commercial level.

Humayun Rashid Choudhury Bangladeshi diplomat and politician

Humayun Rasheed Choudhury was a Bangladeshi career diplomat and Speaker of the Bangladesh National Parliament from 1996 to 2001. He was elected president of the 41st session of the UN General Assembly in 1986. He was awarded Independence Day Award in 2018 posthumously by the Government of Bangladesh.

<i>Cloud Atlas</i> (film) 2012 film directed by Tom Tykwer and the Wachowskis

Cloud Atlas is a 2012 epic science fiction film written and directed by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer. Adapted from the 2004 novel of the same name by David Mitchell, the film has multiple plots occurring during six different eras in time; Mitchell described it as "a sort of pointillist mosaic." Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Jim Broadbent star as part of an ensemble cast.

Yousef Masrahi Saudi Arabian sprinter

Yousef Ahmed Masrahi is a Saudi Arabian track and field athlete, who specialises in the 400 metres sprint. His personal best time for the event is 43.93 seconds, set in 2015, and is the Asian record.

Borgen is a Danish political drama television series. Adam Price is the co-writer and developer of the series, together with Jeppe Gjervig Gram and Tobias Lindholm. Borgen is produced by DR, the Danish public broadcaster which had previously produced The Killing. In Danish: Borgen, lit. '"The Castle"', is the informal name of Christiansborg Palace where all three branches of Danish government reside: the Parliament, the Prime Minister's Office, and the Supreme Court, and is often used as a figure of speech for the Danish government.

<i>A Hologram for the King</i>

A Hologram for the King is a 2012 American novel written by Dave Eggers. In October 2012, the novel was announced as a finalist for the National Book Award.

<i>Inferno</i> (2016 film) 2016 American mystery action thriller film directed by Ron Howard

Inferno is a 2016 American action mystery thriller film directed by Ron Howard and written by David Koepp, loosely based on the 2013 novel of the same name by Dan Brown. The film is the sequel to The Da Vinci Code (2006) and Angels & Demons (2009), and is the third and final installment in the Robert Langdon film series. It stars Tom Hanks, reprising his role as Robert Langdon, alongside Felicity Jones as Dr. Sienna Brooks, Omar Sy, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Foster, and Irrfan Khan.

The second round of AFC matches for 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification was played from 24 May 2015 to 29 March 2016.

Amira El Sayed is an Egyptian-Austrian actress and author based in Berlin, Germany.

Chowdhury is a title of honour, usually hereditary, originating from the Indian subcontinent.

Alexander James Black is an American actor, best known for co-starring alongside Tom Hanks in the 2016 movie, A Hologram for the King. There was controversy in the casting of Alexander Black, an American white actor for the role of "Yousef", the local Arab driver.

Johnny Klimek

Johnny Klimek is an Australian musician, music producer, and composer, best known for his innovative work in the underground electronica music scene and for his film scores.


  1. "A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING (12A)". British Board of Film Classification . March 17, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "A Hologram for the King (2016)". BFI . Retrieved October 4, 2016.[ dead link ]
  3. "Hollywood's comedy crisis with the Middle East". NewsTalk. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  4. "A Hologram For The King". BoxOfficeFlops.com. Archived from the original on November 30, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  5. "A Hologram for the King (2016)". The Numbers. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  6. 1 2 Billington, Alex (June 12, 2013). "Tom Hanks & Tom Tykwer Reteaming to Adapt a Dave Eggers Novel". FirstShowing. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  7. McClintock, Pamela (May 14, 2014). "First Look at Tom Hanks in 'A Hologram for the King'". The Hollywood Reporter . Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  8. Steven Holden, Review: ‘A Hologram for the King’ Is Elevated by Tom Hanks’s Portrayal of an American Everyman, The New York Times, April 21, 2016, accessed April 22, 2016.
  9. 1 2 Fleming Jr, Mike (September 5, 2013). "Lotus Stakes 'A Hologram For The King' With Tom Hanks And Tom Tykwer". Deadline Hollywood . Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  10. "Tom Tykwer's Tom Hanks-Starrer 'A Hologram For The King' Finalizes Cast". Deadline Hollywood. March 6, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  11. Kay, Jeremy (March 6, 2014). "Hologram shoot underway in Morocco". Screen Daily . Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  12. McNary, Dave (March 6, 2014). "Sarita Choudhury, Omar Elba Join Tom Hanks in 'Hologram for the King'". Variety . Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  13. "Tom Hanks: Ballett Lessons in Berlin (in German)". TV Today. May 14, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  14. "Review: 'A Hologram for the King' Is Elevated by Tom Hanks's Portrayal of an American Everyman". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
  15. "A Hologram for the King (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  16. "A Hologram for the King reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved April 23, 2016.
  17. "Tom Hanks". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 11, 2016.