Netflix's Extraction 2 among high-profile projects shooting in Czech Republic

The country's popluarity has been further boosted by a €12m rise in budget for the annual production incentive 

By Chris Evans 27 Sep 2021

Netflix's Extraction 2 among high-profile projects shooting in Czech Republic

The Czech Republic is busier than ever, housing high-budget productions including Netflix sequel Extraction 2, starring Chris Hemsworth, which moved from Australia to Prague; the streaming giant’s series All Quiet On The Western Front, starring Daniel Brühl; Starz and Lionsgate’s female-skewed version of Dangerous Liaisons; Sky’s apocalyptic series Extinction; and another Netflix feature Spaceman Of Bohemia, starring Adam Sandler.

Dangerous Liaisons is set in 1780 Paris, but France and the UK were not an option for us because of the expense. Prague is a more economical place to film,” says series line producer Rob How.

Other projects include Netflix’s CIA thriller The Gray Man, starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans; MGM International TV and Peacock’s thriller series Last Light, starring Matthew Fox, and Amazon and Gaumont’s Operation Totems, a Cold War-era love story set in East Berlin, Moscow and Paris.

“The Czech Republic is very welcoming to film shoots, with a high-performing audiovisual industry, renowned film studios and highly skilled technicians,” says Operation Totems producer Arnaud de Crémiers.

In a further boost, the annual production incentive budget for the 20% rebate has increased by €12m, making it €43.5m for 2021.

Disney+’s Marvel series The Falcon And The Winter Soldier filmed in October 2020 under strict Covid-19 protocols, doubling Prague for Latvia, Tunisia, Turkey, Poland, Russia and Germany. Lionsgate’s White Bird: A Wonder Story, produced by Julia Roberts and starring Gillian Anderson, also shot in the Czrch Republic. Meanwhile the second season of Legendary Television’s Carnival Row, starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Dele­vingne, returned to filming in August, including at Barrandov Studio, with a local crew of around 900 people.

“The craftsmanship of our Czech crew was second to none,” says Carnival Row showrunner Erik Oleson. “The massive sets are built out in such meticulous detail that you wouldn’t know you’re on a backlot. You can walk its streets and alleys and directly into buildings that are functional working sets of their own. What would be prohibitively expensive to construct and film elsewhere is not only possible in the Czech Republic, the locals make it happen for a reasonable price.”

The wide variety of locations in the Czech Republic range from cities, castles, chateaus and reservoirs to forests, mountains, caves and sandstone cliffs. The capital is divided into numbered administrative districts, with Prague 1, Prague 2 and Prague 3 being the most central. Producers need a permit from each district in which they plan to shoot. Most productions also require a permit from Technicka Sprava Komunikaci (TSK), Prague’s road and street authority.

The country is also promoting two below-the-radar locations: the Valec chateau, at the edge of north-west Czech’s Doupov mountains in the Karlovy Vary region, is a 15-hectare complex with eight other film-friendly sites, including a church, administrative building and carriage house. And in the country’s south east, the 19th-century Brno underground water reservoirs in the South Moravian region have opened up to filmmakers.

Financial incentives

The national incentive, known as the Czech Film Fund, offers a 20% cash rebate on qualifying spend on goods and services. International costs paid to foreign cast and crew who pay withholding tax in the Czech Republic are eligible for a rebate of 66% on the withholding tax actually paid. Eligible expenditure is capped at 80% of the total budget. The fund applies to film and TV, including all post-production work. There are minimum spending levels that differ for film ($719,000; czk15m) and TV series ($383,500; czk8m per episode), and a cultural test is required. The annual budget for the incentive was recently increased by €12m. Prague also offers a relatively modest production fund, which is available to titles that depict Prague as Prague.

Infrastructure and crews

Barrandov Studio is one of Europe’s biggest, with 13 soundstages. Its vast 160,000 square metre backlot has an artificial embankment and natural horizon. Prague Studios has six stages and a 100,000 square metre backlot. Crews are usually fluent in English, German or French. Producers can bring heads of department, but international productions increasingly hire heads of department locally. There is enough studio space, equipment and crew to handle multiple productions of various sizes at the same time.

This feature is a condensed form of our profile in the latest issue of World of Locations.

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