28. April 2021

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Based on data from the Czech Film Commission, film projects in 2021 in the Czech Republic will reach a level not seen since before the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to its robust system of film incentives, 2019 was record-breaking for the Czech film industry, with CZK 9 billion (EUR 347 million / USD 420  million) in foreign investment flowing into the country. Foreign audiovisual projects will play a significant role in revitalizing the entire audiovisual sector, including the related non-audiovisual industries. Large projects for Amazon, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, Netflix, ZDF, and Sky are already being filmed or in pre-production. These include the continuation of two of the largest projects ever shot in the Czech Republic to date: Carnival Row with Orlando Bloom and The Wheel of Time with Rosamund Pike.

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Margrete – Queen of the North, one of the first 2020 pandemic shoots  | Photo: SF Studios / Julie Vrabelova / Sirena Film

“Foreign production interest was only temporarily held back last year, and we are once again seeing huge demand for filming in the Czech Republic. The audiovisual industry has an extraordinarily strong capacity to adapt and recover rapidly, so it is also the perfect tool to jumpstart employment and entrepreneurship in the post-coronavirus period,” said Helena Bezdek Frankova, director of the Czech Film Fund

The upward trend in TV series production for streaming platforms is linked to the development of the Internet as a distribution channel for entertainment, leading from the producer directly to the consumer – the viewer. “The coronavirus crisis has accelerated this growth - in addition to reading and listening activities, people have turned increasingly to watching TV and pre-paid online broadcasts for entertainment during the lockdown period,” says Czech Film Commissioner Pavlina Zipkova. “More and more multi-year projects are being shot, whose extensive preparations involve costly months of building sets and making special props, costumes and masks. Such projects are also filmed in the Czech regions, where the crews expend funds on location rental, accommodation meals, and other services, as well as the use of locals as extras and location security. It is a welcome decentralization of Prague, facilitated by a strong network of regional film offices aimed at assisting filmmakers.”

The growing demand by foreign studios to film in the Czech Republic shows that 2021 could also fully make up for the stagnation experienced in 2020. Increased demand should be exploited, as it brings funds to the Czech economy in the form of foreign capital inflows and work for a large supply chain. The execution of projects for the world’s most prestigious studios also brings huge positive publicity to the Czech Republic. This year’s Golden Globe winner Gillian Anderson praised the Czech filmmakers during her shooting of The White Bird: A Wonder Story in mid-March saying: “The crew was fantastic, highly skilled, friendly, professional. I know too the costume department specifically were very impressed by the craftsmenship.”  

Among the projects that are shooting or in prep in the Czech Republic are the adaptation of the famous E. M. Remarque’s novel All Quiet on the Western Front (Netflix) starring Felix Kammerer and directed by Edward Berger; Operation Totems, a Cold War-era story of love between two spies that takes place in East Berlin, Moscow and Paris (Amazon, Gaumont); a new adaptation of the novel Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (Lionsgate); the apocalyptic series Extinction (Sky); and the Netflix feature films Spaceman of Bohemia, an adaptation of the novel by Czech writer Jaroslav Kalfar starring Adam Sandler; and The Gray Man, a CIA thriller with Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans in the lead roles. In addition, work continues on the two biggest projects mentioned above: The Wheel of Time (Amazon, Sony) with Rosamund Pike, which is finishing up shooting on the first series, with the second series to follow immediately afterwards, and Carnival Row (Amazon, Legendary TV) with Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevigne. Completed projects include the ZDF fairytale The Dwarf’s Nose; director Marco Forster’s feature film The White Bird: A Wonder Story (Lionsgate) with Gillian Anderson and Helen Mirren, the story of a Jewish girl hidden by a family in occupied France; and the third series of the successful American series Hanna (Amazon, NBCUniversal).

The audiovisual sector in the Czech Republic demonstrated its flexibility during the crisis, when it was able to quickly adopt all necessary measures to protect against coronavirus during prep, production, and wrap. With the announcement of the first state of emergency, the Czech Film Fund, in cooperation with its department Czech Film Commission, the Association of Audiovisual Producers, and experts in workplace safety, began development of a set of hygiene rules to return thousands of workers to work in the film industry. The result was a set of self-regulatory measures for safe filming and rules for cross-border transport. Audiovisual production restarted at the beginning of May - the Czech Republic was the first country in continental Europe to reopen to foreign filmmakers.