A Hologram for the King (film)

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A Hologram for the King
A Hologram for the King poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTom Tykwer
Screenplay byTom Tykwer
Based onA Hologram for the King
by Dave Eggers
Produced by
CinematographyFrank Griebe
Edited byAlexander Berner
Music by
  • Playtone
  • X-Filme Creative Pool
  • Primeridian Entertainment
  • Silver Reel
Distributed by
Release date
Running time
97 minutes[2]
Budget$35 million[4][5]
Box office$11.8 million[6]

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,[7][8] 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.[3] The film was released on April 22, 2016, by Lionsgate, Roadside Attractions and Saban Films.[9]


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),[10] 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 alcohol disguised as 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 assures 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.[7] On September 5, 2013, Lotus Entertainment began licensing international rights to the film.[11] 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.[12]

Tom Hanks on set, March 13, 2014.


Production was set to begin in first quarter of 2014.[11] Principal photography commenced on March 6, 2014 in Morocco.[13] Filming also took place in Hurghada in Egypt, as well as in Berlin and Düsseldorf in Germany. Shooting wrapped in June 2014.[14][15]


Critical response[edit]

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.[16] On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 70% based on 150 reviews and an average rating of 6.20/10. 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."[17] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 58 out of 100 based on 35 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[18]

Box office[edit]

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.[19]


  1. ^ a b "A Hologram for the King". Box Office Mojo.
  2. ^ "A HOLOGRAM FOR THE KING (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. March 17, 2016. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "A Hologram for the King (2016)". BFI. Archived from the original on March 4, 2021. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  4. ^ "Hollywood's comedy crisis with the Middle East". NewsTalk. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  5. ^ "A Hologram For The King". BoxOfficeFlops.com. Archived from the original on November 30, 2016. Retrieved February 20, 2017.
  6. ^ "A Hologram for the King (2016)". The Numbers. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  7. ^ a b Billington, Alex (June 12, 2013). "Tom Hanks & Tom Tykwer Reteaming to Adapt a Dave Eggers Novel". FirstShowing. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  8. ^ McClintock, Pamela (May 14, 2014). "First Look at Tom Hanks in 'A Hologram for the King'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 16, 2014.
  9. ^ Chang, Justin (April 20, 2016). "Film Review: 'A Hologram for the King'". Variety. Retrieved July 18, 2021.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (September 5, 2013). "Lotus Stakes 'A Hologram For The King' With Tom Hanks And Tom Tykwer". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  12. ^ "Tom Tykwer's Tom Hanks-Starrer 'A Hologram For The King' Finalizes Cast". Deadline Hollywood. March 6, 2014. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  13. ^ Kay, Jeremy (March 6, 2014). "Hologram shoot underway in Morocco". Screen Daily. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  14. ^ McNary, Dave (March 6, 2014). "Sarita Choudhury, Omar Elba Join Tom Hanks in 'Hologram for the King'". Variety. Retrieved March 7, 2014.
  15. ^ "Tom Hanks: Ballett Lessons in Berlin (in German)". TV Today. May 14, 2014. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  16. ^ "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.
  17. ^ "A Hologram for the King (2016)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  18. ^ "A Hologram for the King reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved August 17, 2021.
  19. ^ "Tom Hanks". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved May 11, 2016.

External links[edit]