HN: Filmmakers expected to spend CZK 5 billion in CR this year

Filmmakers are expected to pump around CZK 5 billion into the Czech economy this year. A large share of that sum will be spent by the makers of epic historical serials, while stars such as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Shia LaBeouf are also slated to shoot here during 2016, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday.

Photo: Public DomainPhoto: Public Domain The number of foreign productions this year will be five times higher than the figure for 2009, Ludmila Claussová of the Czech Film Commission, which is tasked with attracting outside filmmakers, told the daily.

One shoot due to start soon will see the clay of Prague’s Štvanice tennis stadium replaced by grass as it stands in for Wimbledon in 1980, when legends John McEnroe and Bjorn Borg squared up in the final.

The former will be portrayed by LaBeouf, who is known for the Transformers movies, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Nymphomania, among other roles.

The producers of Borg vs. McEnroe, represented by local firm Sirena Films, are expected to spend around CZK 55 million in Prague on a shoot lasting a number of weeks, Hospodářské noviny said.

That figure pales beside the CZK 1.1 billion that should be left behind by the makers of Knightfall, an epic historical series focused on the fall and persecution of the Knights Templar in the 14th century.

The 10-part serial is being executive produced by Hollywood star Jeremy Renner, who is known for The Hurt Locker and installments in the hit Bourne and Mission Impossible series.

Not far behind in terms of budget (on CZK 970) will be another foreign series, Britannia. It focuses on the Roman conquest of Britain and is being made for Sky by the Prague-based Rick McCallum, who produced the early Star Wars movies.

Also due to be shot in the Czech capital from November this year is a movie starring the Hong Kong martial arts great Donnie Yen alongside Hollywood veterans Robert De Niro and Al Pacino.

That picture has been referred to in the media as Noodle Man, but Radomír Dočekal of the Prague office of production company Milk & Honey Pictures told Hospodářské noviny it was titled Chinese Justice, American Revenge.

This burst of interest on the part of outside movie makers stems from the reintroduction of state incentives in 2010. Under the scheme, the Czech state returns some of producers’ costs. This amounts to CZK 800 million a year, according to the newspaper.

The trend looks set to continue in 2017, when Hollywood director Ron Howard (maker of The DaVinci Code) will come to the Czech capital to direct Einstein, the first episode in National Geographic’s planned Genius series.

However, the rules for obtaining state incentives will be tougher from next year, with more frequent and thorough spending audits planned.

Helena Bezděk Fraňková of the State Cinematography Fund told Hospodářské noviny that the agency was currently preparing a unified method of assessing spending and was expanding its team ahead of the change.