Fifteen years ago, Prague was one of the Hollywood’s premiere shooting locations, as low production costs and top local industry talent brought a wave of major productions into the city.
After the first Mission: Impossible opened the floodgates in 1995, films like Hellboy, Blade II, xXx, Alien vs. Predator, and many others rushed into the Czech capital to shoot in the early 2000s. (Related: check out my picks for the Best Films Shot in Prague and Worst Films Shot in Prague.)
But the rising value of the crown – and a lack of incentives from the government, as the local production industry fought political opposition – soon saw most productions moving East to cities such as Bucharest and Sofia.
For years, while countries like Hungary offered a 25% rebate on production costs, the Czech Republic failed to offer anything similar.
Until now. Incentives introduced in the past two years include a rebate of up to 20% on movies shooting at the Czech capital, and the Czech Film Fund has grown by more than a third. Local production agency Milk and Honey breaks down the rebates and qualifying conditions on their website.
The new incentives are already paying off, as more and more major Hollywood productions are coming back to the Czech capital.
The recently-released Child 44, starring Tom Hardy and Gary Oldman, made extensive use of the Czech capital a couple of years ago, with Prague filling in for 1950s Moscow. So did Serena, out now in the US, which starred Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence; in that film, Prague became Depression-era North Carolina.
Other recently-released movies shot in Prague include Last Knights, with Clive Owen and Morgan Freeman, and the apocalyptic sci-fi film Snowpiercer, which was shot at Barrandov Studios.
Unlocked, a thriller starring Orlando Bloom, Michael Douglas, John Malkovich, and Noomi Rapace, wrapped earlier this year and is set for a 2016 release. It was shot in Prague and London.
And more films currently in pre-production are set to shoot in Prague.
Anthropoid, a historical drama about the WWII assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in Prague by Czech paratroopers, will begin filming in August. Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Cillian Murphy star; the producers are currently presenting the project at this year’s Karlovy Vary film festival.
While Anthropoid is getting all the press, a competing Heydrich assassination movie is also set to shoot in the Czech capital. From the novel by Laurent Binet, HHHH will star Rosamund Pike, Jason Clarke, Jack O’Connell, and Mia Wasikowska. Filming is set to take place in Prague and Budapest from August.
Underworld: Next Generation, the latest in the vampires vs. werewolves franchise starring Kate Beckinsale, is slated to begin shooting in Prague later this fall.
The Zookeeper’s Wife, a WWII drama starring Jessica Chastain, is also set to begin filming in September.
Prague isn’t just hosting Hollywood films, as TV shows are also making use of local locales. They include Fox’s Legends, starring Sean Bean, which is currently shooting its second season in the Czech capital, and BBC’s The Musketeers, now in its third year of production in the golden city.
On Monday at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka introduced a new amendment that would bring further financial support to Czech movies.
Film production is becoming big business in the Czech Republic once again.