2019 turned out to be a record-breaking year for the Czech film industry in terms of foreign investment.
A robust local system of film incentives lured big international projects into the country, totaling almost 80 feature films and episodic productions with streaming giants Netflix and Amazon becoming the biggest spenders in the country.
Once the pandemic hit the Czech Republic, the measures implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus threatened to cut down film productions by 75%.
However, the Czech Republic became the first country in continental Europe to reopen to foreign filmmakers after the domestic industry developed and implemented self-regulatory recommendations as a form of protection against the coronavirus during film shoots, which enabled the reopening of film sets from mid-May 2020 onwards while eschewing similar disturbance when the second wave of the virus hit the country.
“More and more multi-year projects are being shot, whose extensive preparations involve costly months of building sets and making special props, costumes, and masks. Such projects are also filmed in the Czech regions, where the crews expend funds on-location rental, accommodation, meals, and other services, as well as the use of locals as extras and location security. It is a welcome decentralisation of Prague, facilitated by a strong network of regional film offices aimed at assisting filmmakers,” notes Czech Film Commissioner Pavlína Žipková.
By opening to foreign shoots in May, the Czech audiovisual industry demonstrated its flexibility to swiftly adopt necessary measures for the new circumstances that the pandemic triggered, reminds the Czech Film Commission.
The scheduled amount of work to be carried out in the Czech Republic by foreign studios suggests that 2021 could fully make up for the 2020 disruption and even rebound to the pre-pandemic highs of the record-breaking year of 2019, when foreign productions spent €347 million in the country.
In addition to Netflix’s most expensive production to date, The Gray Man, other projects to shoot in the Czech Republic include a Cold War-era love story between two spies, Operation Totems, for Amazon, a new adaptation of the novel Dangerous Liaisons by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (Lionsgate), Sky’s apocalyptic series Extinction and a Netflix adaptation of the sci-fi novel by Czech writer Jaroslav Kalfař, Spaceman of Bohemia, starring Adam Sandler.
Amazon’s two-season fantasy series The Wheel of Time, which is finishing up the shooting of the first season to be immediately followed by the production of the second, and Carnival Row, remain the biggest foreign productions in the country.