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Led by Netflix and Amazon Prime, foreign productions flock to the Czech Republic

Prague, Czech Republic – Led by major U.S. streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon and lured by the tax film incentives, foreign movies productions are flocking en masse to the Czech Republic.

Foreign productions generate record revenues in Czech Republic in 2019

With almost 80 international productions, both films and series, shot in the country in 2019, the Czech Republic attracted almost double the number of productions compared to the previous year. Foreign productions generated record revenues of more than €360 million, according to the Czech Film Fund, cementing the Czech Republic as an increasingly attractive and popular destination for international film crews.

“Foreign productions alone almost doubled in comparison to 2018, and are at their highest peak since we began monitoring this particular indicator”, said Helena Bezdek Frankova, head of the Czech Film Fund. “For the state, it is most advantageous to provide as many film incentives as possible, because higher incentives generate higher returns for the Czech economy”, she commented.

Led by streaming giants Amazon Prime and Netflix, who spent the largest shares in the country last year, series accounted for nearly 80% of the productions shot in the Czech Republic (a significant jump from 65% in 2018). The most high-profile projects filmed in the country in 2019 – and expected to continue in 2020 – include Amazon’s Carnival Row – starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne and mainly shot in Prague – and the epic fantasy The Wheel of Time.

“The primary attraction for foreign producers is, and will be, film incentives – there’s no question about it”, according to head of the Czech Film Commission Pavlina Zipkova. “But the wide variety of Czech locations, the architectural diversity and more factors also play a huge role, not to mention our very skilled Czech craftsmen. Our film professionals are some of the best in the world”.

A cut-throat competition in Central Europe

In total, international film and series productions shot a total of 1,400 days in the Czech Republic, an all-time high. Under its tax incentive scheme, launched in 2010 and now offering a 20% rebate on eligible costs spent in the country, the Czech Film Fund paid a total of more than €48 million distributed between 71 projects last year. Although managing to stand out of the crowd, the Czech Republic faces a tough competition to attract high-profile productions from abroad, including from its neighbours who have all introduced similar cash rebates in recent years.

Since last month, neighbouring Slovakia, for instance, increased its cash rebate to TV and movie productions from 20% to 33%, now putting it en par with countries like Hungary, Poland, Estonia or Lithuania.

“We try to compete with the incentives, which are now actually one of the lowest in Europe because we offer 20%”, Zipkova told Radio Prague last year. “But alongside the incentives – which were not in place before and might not be in the future – what we really can build on is the history of the cinema. Czech filmmakers have always been working, had a chance to work with foreign productions from the U.S., the U.K., England, Germany, France”.

2020 might yet be another record-breaking year for the Czech Republic’s attractiveness as a prime shooting location in Europe. The highly anticipated second season of Netflix’s hit fantasy show The Witcher, starring Henry Cavill as the famous monster hunter, is already expected to shoot in locations in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, after filming most of its first season in neighbouring Poland.

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