Prague Production Bounces Back with Hollywood Projects Due at Barrandov

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Kate Beckinsale is in Prague filming 'Underworld: Next Generation'

Sean Bean, Jessica Chastain and Kate Beckingsale are among the top talent due to film in the Czech capital as a rebate scheme brings back international producers.

Prague's Barrandov Studios is set to host a slew of Hollywood movie and TV projects in the coming year as the Czech film service industry bounces back after a decade in the doldrums.

Plans to expand production incentives that introduced a 20 percent rebate on movies shooting in the former Communist central European country five years ago after years of political opposition are expected to put the country back on the international budgets of Hollywood producers.

Barrandov-based Stillking Films – co-producer of Soviet Stalin-era serial killer thriller Child 44 – is hosting the second season of Fox 21's Legends, a crime thriller starring British actor Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings) as a deep cover operative. And Lakeshore Entertainment is prepping for principle photography due to start in October on Underworld: Next Generation, the fifth film in the vampire franchise starring Kate Beckinsale.

The resurgence – a decade after other central and eastern European low-budget locations such as Budapest, Bucharest and Sofia stole a march on Prague with production incentives and cheaper crews and infrastructure – comes as the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, opening tonight two hours west of Prague, marks its 50th edition.

Richard Gere will receive the event's prestigious Crystal Globe for lifetime achievement and other star guests include Harvey Keitel, back after a break of more than 10 years.

Plans to beef up the production rebate scheme should be put before lawmakers before August, claims Czech film commissioner Ludmila Claussova.

"Many territories offer filmmakers incentives in the form of tax credits, but the Czech plan is different in that it actually gives producers cash grants once they finish their production," she says.

The rebate – worth 20 percent on production costs and 10 percent on above-the-line expenses – will pay out around $50 million to 71 film and TV projects shooting this year and next.

Proposed changes to the scheme due to be discussed in the Czech parliament include great flexibility and the lifting of a yearly cash limit on the rebate total.

"The rebate will no longer be subject to a yearly cap," adds Claussova. "Producers will be able to register at any time and immediately receive a registration certificate that guarantees payment of the rebate upon fulfilment of all conditions."

Payouts will be made throughout the year and producers will be able to choose to receive their grants in two parts: once upon completion of filming in the Czech Republic and again after the completion of all Czech production, she added.

Other projects coming to Prague include Anthropoid, a thriller based on the true wartime story of the assassination of a top Nazi officer by British-trained agents. The film is produced by U.S. company LD Entertainment, French firm 22h22 and Prague-based Lucky Man Films.

Two-time Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain will be in Prague in September, where she is starring in The Zookeeper's Wife, another wartime tale, this time about a Polish couple who saved hundreds of people and zoo animals during the Nazi occupation. The film's producers are U.K.-based Scion Films and Rowe/Miller Productions from the U.S., along with Czech Anglo Production.

 

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