Hungary, Poland on prod'n fast track


LONDON -- Central Europe's ability to meet the demands of local and international co-productions moved up a rung Friday when the region's newest filmmaking complex, Hungary's Korda Studios, announced the start of principal photography on its first major production, Guillermo del Toro's "Hellboy 2."

The announcement of the completion of the first week of shooting at the $127 million studio's huge twin Stages 2 and 3 came hard on the heels of a deal announced Wednesday in Poland to build a massive 10-stage studio complex 50 miles south of Warsaw, with sound stages that will dwarf those currently available at Korda or Prague's Barrandov.

The first "Hellboy" film made use of Barrandov Studio in the Czech Republic when it was made in 2004.

Laszlo Krisan, managing director and CEO of Korda Studios, which is situated at Eytek, 17 miles from Budapest, said "Hellboy 2" was the largest-ever production to shoot in Hungary, with an international cast and crew of 350 expected to spend six months at the studios and on location.

More than 60% of the film will be shot on Korda's four new sound stages, just outside Budapest, as well a new moviemaking complex's backlot. The production also is making use of Korda's completed production support buildings and a large workshop, Krisan said.

"We hope today marks the start of a new era in Hungarian filmmaking and that, in the future, local professionals will be able to showcase their talents in more and more international and European productions," Krisan said.

Other producers already have expressed interest in booking stages when production on "Hellboy 2" wraps as well as the two further stages to be completed by early 2008 -- one of which, at 63,000 square feet, will include an indoor water tank with depths of up to 20 feet, Krisan added.

In Poland, the Polish Film Institute on Wednesday signed contracts with Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, other senior government ministers and film industry representatives, to build a massive filmmaking center, Film City, on an old military airbase that occupies a 1,200-acre site at Nowe Miasto nad Pilicou south of Warsaw.

Ten sound stages will be built using existing aircraft hangars, with the largest offering 7,000 square meters of space, the Polish Film Institute said.

Although not a privately funded development, the new $133 million studios will, like Hungary's Korda, include a large backlot, water tank and buildings to house props, costumes and production facilities.

The Polish government is providing seed funding of $20 million, with the rest being sought from European Union structural funds, details of which should be released later this year.

Said Polish Film Institute chief Agnieszka Odorowicz: "The prime minister has agreed to make the project a government priority."

Film City would be situated in an area served by a private airport only 25 minutes by fast train from the center of Warsaw.