Ron Howard filmed Budapest as Italy for Inferno
Filmmaker Ron Howard and actor Tom Hanks doubled Budapest for Italy shooting their movie adaptation of Inferno, a follow-up to The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons.
Inferno follows Hanks’ cryptographer Robert Langdon as he wakes from an amnesiac state in an Italian hospital and is once again embroiled in a global conspiracy that takes him across Italy and around the world.
Budapest largely doubled for Italian locations through the course of the shoot, with the production using Origo Studios as a base.
“That is where we built our major sets and set up our production offices, mill, costume department [and] SFX workshop,” says Sam Hutchins, the film’s supervising location manager, in comments to KFTV. “It’s a fantastic facility that is easily reachable from downtown and extremely user-friendly.
“The work was pretty evenly divided between stage and location, but the built sets were particularly impressive in their scope and artistry. Our designer Peter Denham did some brilliant work on the stages.”
Origo Studios offers nine sound stages and a ten-acre back lot. The Inferno team also used a water tank facility at nearby Korda Studios for underwater scenes.
“We shot scenes all over Budapest, from the Opera House, Hungarian Museum and other iconic locations to less affluent neighbourhoods and even some modern buildings,” says Hutchins.
“The city provided an incredibly broad range of options for locations to film. It is a very film-friendly city with a good crew base and solid infrastructure. It’s a working city, a living city, and therefore a place you can make movies.”
Hutchins and his colleagues filmed limited scenes in Italy, choosing more iconic locations that could not be doubled in Budapest.
“Italy was wonderful as well but allowed much less control than Budapest did,” Hutchins says.
“It was much like filming in Times Square. There’s no hope of controlling such heavily trafficked areas, both by tourists and locals, so you reduce your footprint as much as possible, surround your talent with background actors, leap into the breach and hope for the best.”
Italy has boosted its filming incentive support and a big-screen remake of the historical epic Ben-Hur recently became the first international production in years to film entirely in the country.
Steven Spielberg will film scenes locally next year for his period drama The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara.
However, Budapest remains one of the more popular Eastern European filming locations, with period drama series The Alienist and horror anthology The Terror having chosen to film in the city just in the last couple of weeks.
“For me the biggest challenge is always the cultural differences,” Hutchins tells KFTV. “Every film crew in every city in the world has their own way of doing things. As a location manager, I pride myself on being front line in diagnosing how the locals work best and reconciling their methods with the needs of my director, AD and DP in order to run as efficient a set as possible so their creativity can flourish.”
For more on filming in Hungary see our production guide.
Images: Columbia Pictures/Imagine Entertainment