Bulgaria's impressive Nu Boyana studios is helping attract big projects

A new 25% cash rebate is also imminent

By Chris Evans 26 Jul 2021

Bulgaria's impressive Nu Boyana studios is helping attract big projects
Nu Boyana Studios' Rome set

Bulgaria has worked hard to attract a steady stream of major international projects in recent years. Now the government is poised to approve a cash rebate of 25% of qualifying costs up to $1.2m (€1m) per project that will boost the country’s appeal further still.

This will be a boon for state-of-the-art Nu Boyana Film Studios, owned by the US’s Nu Image and Millennium Media. Situated just outside capital city Sofia and spread over 30 hectares, the complex features 10 soundstages, an underwater production facility and plenty of standing sets — some left over from recent shoots including Rambo: Last Blood and London Has Fallen.

“The facilities are world class and I have never come up against a location or logistical issue that hasn’t been made achievable by the production staff and local authorities,” says US-based producer Matt O’Toole, who has shot dozens of movies at the studio. “They have great stages and incredible backlot street sets that we have used many times to double for London and New York.

“The studios has a huge array of equipment, props, set dressing, costumes and vehicles, which has saved our productions from having to ship in from other countries. Plus, the crews are world class across all departments so there are no issues with bringing in US and UK talent and technicians.”

Millennium Media is expected to shoot Night Has Fallen, the fourth instalment in the Gerard Butler action franchise, at the studios later this year. This comes after a busy 2020 at the studios, which saw Millennium shoot high-concept thriller ’Till Death, starring Megan Fox, under strict Covid-19 protocols, and Martin Campbell’s The Protégé, which also did post-production work at the studios.

Millennium Media recently formed a joint venture with Lebanon outfit Eagle Films to produce four TV series to shoot at the studio. The first is crime thriller Rally, which is now in pre-production and aims to shoot in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Other films that have shot at the Nu Boyana Studios recently include two projects from Lionsgate, The Devil’s Light and Cobweb; and Free Dolphin Productions’ Royal Blossom and Lost And Found In Rome.

Even before a formal incentive, O’Toole insists “economically, the cost of set construction, shooting, crew and equipment is incredibly competitive. Bulgaria holds its own against other countries in the region, regardless of incentive.”

In terms of locations, Bulgaria offers the wooded mountains of Vitosha, situated beyond the backlot at Nu Boyana, as well as sandy beaches with views of the Black Sea, snow-capped peaks in Rila, Pirin and the continental Danubian plain (ancient Moesia), all within five hours’ drive of each other. “It’s a dream of a place to work,” says O’Toole.

This feature is a condensed version of the Bulgaria profile in our latest issue of World of Locations, which you can read below...

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