Some call it Dunawood – In the last few years Budapest has become Central Europe’s hot spot for big budget films and TV series.
At practically any time of the year it's possible to turn a corner to find yourself on a film set. Some section of a Budapest street dressed to resemble belle epoque Paris or 1950s Berlin, cordoned off with white ribbon and blokes wandering around with walkie-talkies. Spots like the Brudern Ház (Caterpillar House) currently under restoration on the corner of Petőfi Sándor ut, might be familiar as the assassination scene in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy or Eövtös utca in the 6th district, where the armoured car chase took place in Die Hard 5. You might even get a glimpse of a star - in fact if you're a regular at upmarket establishments like Nobu, chances are you will.
In the last decade or so Hungary’s capital city has stood in for Moscow, Buenos Aires, Washington, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Vienna and Baltimore, among others. In 2013, another series of the big budget action series Strike Back was shot here, as was the 150 million dollar blockbuster Hercules, (with Dwayne 'the Rock' Johnson as the mythical muscleman). So too was the new NBC series Dracula (a reboot starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers), Houdini with (Adrien Brody in the titular role) and Fleming, another biopic, this one about Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond.
It's tempting to romanticise the film and TV business, but the reasons for so many big budget productions choosing Hungary are practical as they come. These days there are half-a-dozen such sound stages in and around Budapest either hosting international film productions. The big names include Origo Studios and Korda Studios.
The Hungarian government gives international productions a 20% tax rebate on their spend in this country. But even without the refund, filming in Hungary is significantly cheaper than in, for example, the UK perhaps especially for productions that need to build big sets as opposed to shooting on actual locations. And of course it doesn’t hurt that the city itself is just dripping with cinematic sex appeal.
If you're curious about the film business in Hungary, you can even visit the themed attraction, Korda Filmpark, home to sets and sound stages from many feature films and TV series.