Filming in Hungary

Budapest the Film Location Double

Hollywood Movies, where Budapest has Faked Cities like Paris, Berlin or Moscow

For the past two decades, Budapest’s film industry has been blooming, and every year more and more international productions come to Budapest and to Progressive Productions. It is not a coincidence that creators from all over the world choose Budapest as a filming location for their productions.

Budapest has features that allow some parts of the city to be made to look like any other European city: Berlin, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Vienna, Saint Petersburg, Buenos Aires. Budapest has already played these great cities in several films.

For the past two decades, Budapest’s film industry has been blooming, and every year more and more international productions come to Budapest and to Progressive Productions. It is not a coincidence that creators from all over the world choose Budapest as a filming location for their productions.

Budapest has features that allow some parts of the city to be made to look like any other European city: Berlin, Paris, Rome, Moscow, Vienna, Saint Petersburg, Buenos Aires. Budapest has already played these great cities in several films.

The city’s nostalgic atmosphere makes it possible for it to double as almost any European city with the smallest and fewest alterations possible.

Some Serious Action in Moscow

Several scenes from the fifth installment of the Die Hard series were filmed in Hungary’s capital. Bruce Willis was getting into some dangerous stuff on the streets of Budapest, for instance in the alleys of Andrássy Avenue, Szabadság Square and Heroes’ Square.

He beat up a few Russians and even got into a car chase on Baross street. He also blew some things up behind our great Opera House. As the plot of the movie took place in Moscow, these streets posed as the Russian capital. The atmosphere of Budapest is very similar to Moscow’s and Russia’s, which could be easily explained by a few similarities in our histories.

Budapest also played Moscow in the 1988 movie called Red Heat starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi. At the stairs of Buda Castle Schwarzenegger was searching for some drug dealer mafia members while in Lukács bath he was beating up some bad guys as usual.

The stunning spy movie Red Sparrow starring Jennifer Lawrence is based on a novel set in Helsinki and Moscow, but since the creators of the film found that Hungary was such a gold mine of filming locations, they decided not only to film the majority of scenes in Budapest, but also to rewrite the story to set a part of the film in Budapest. This shows how the Hungarian capital has equally ideal locations that double as the Finnish and the Russian capital, as well as shining as itself.


Finally, Budapest’s Fine Arts Museum doubled as Stalin’s Soviet headquarters in the 2013 movie The 100 Year Old Man Who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared. A more unique type of action happened here; an epic and spontaneous drinking party.

Action, History and Romance in Paris

In Steven Spielberg's’ Munich, which was nominated for five Oscars in 2005, the historical Andrássy boulevard played the Paris and Rome of the 70s. The production designer of Munich, Rick Carter said that Budapest was the best Paris look alike city the team has ever seen. Furthermore, the Marriott Hotel of Budapest was used as a London setting and also our football stadium, called Puskás Stadion, was featured as Munich in the 40’s.

Rick Carter was even laughing at the fact that the next street from the Paris set was used as a setting for Rome.

As strange as it sounds, Robert Pattinson used to seduce ladies on these same streets. The movie Bel Ami, a period romantic drama, where Pattinson played a charming writer who seduced ladies like Uma Thurman, was shot on these streets which posed as 19th century Paris.

In 2016 Rowan Atkinson turned serious in the cafés and alleyways of Budapest while shooting the British television production of Maigret. Here the dark side of 1950s Paris was created by the use of such locations as the Palace of Justice, the Nyugati train station and the Fisherman's Bastion.

Playing Paris is probably Budapest’s greatest and most popular talent, with its romantic, old-school buildings and nostalgic atmosphere it really looks like 19th and 20th century Paris. In the chick flick called Monte Carlo, Budapest also played the French capital, this time doubling as modern day Paris.

- said Wash Westmoreland, Director and Co-Writer of Colette. He continued: “In doing that they have their own Champs-Élysées which is called Andrassy, which is a big boulevard in the center of the city. And they have also their own Moulin Rouge, which was built to sort of copy the Moulin Rouge in Paris, but now it looks more like the original Moulin Rouge then the one in Paris does. Because the one in Paris has expanded and become a much bigger space. So, there’s many things about Budapest that really lent themselves. All the interiors really we found had this sort of unrefurbished look to them, like it was the same windows, the same doorknobs, and floorboards, it just felt like time had not changed this place.”

By the work of the director and co-writer of Colette, Budapest has been proven yet again to be the perfect double for Paris of the past. He even mislead locals by focusing so much on making sure to convince the viewers that the film was completely shot in the French capital.

Eerie 19th Century New York

The Alienist is a TNT Drama Series set in 1896 in New York, but was shot in 2017 in Budapest. Huge cobblestone sets of entire streets were constructed on the Origo Studios’ backlots, featuring countless exteriors finished to the smallest detail. Quite a few streets and squares of Budapest were also used, for example, the trailer’s main establishing shot was filmed in the centre of town in front of an old brick school building that doubled as a New York police station. Many of the interiors were shot on location in historic Hungarian buildings, such as the Király Baths, the Wenckheim Palace and the Hungarian State Opera that doubled as the Met Opera.

An establishing shot of The Alienist representing New York in 1896

Youtube THE ALIENIST Official Trailer

Singing in Buenos Aires

One of the first American feature films shot in Budapest is the 1996 cult classic Evita, directed by Alan Parker. While playing the famous actress and First Lady of Argentina, Evita Duarte, Madonna sang many songs of the musical in several locations of Budapest like Andrássy Avenue, the main glass hall of Keleti Train Station and the grandiose marble hall of Palace of Justice.

Youtube trailer for evita

As the film’s plot is set in Buenos Aires, these locations of Budapest all played Argentina. This movie is a good example of the wide range of types of locations in Budapest.

Wars and Spies in Berlin

In 2001 Brad Pitt alongside the legendary Robert Redford came to Budapest to shoot Tony Scott’s clever thriller about a CIA agent. As you might have guessed this film is Spy Game!

The image of the banks of the river Danube in the center of Budapest comes up many times in this movie. There is a famous scene where Pitt and Redford are having a discussion on a rooftop. From that rooftop you can see our beautiful Synagogue and the surroundings of Astoria square. Alongside Budapest’s famous party center Gozsdu udvar, these locations played 1970s Berlin in this intriguing thriller.

The cast of Good also took advantage of the city’s nostalgic and warlike atmosphere.

Youtube trailer for good

In this film with Viggo Mortensen in the leading role, Keleti Railway Station was used as Berlin’s main station from the ‘40s and was decorated with swastika flags in the scene where the nazis caught the film’s hero.

Surprisingly there was some more spying going on in a Budapest playing Berlin: Jessica Chastain, a spy according to the movie’s plot, was searching for a supposedly dead Mossad agent in Keleti Railway Station in the 2011 thriller called The Debt.

Budapest can also play 20th century Berlin very well. Both cities were under the influence of communism during the last decades of the 20th century so the design of the buildings are quite similar, for example there were many panel flats in both cities. The only difference is that Berlin by now has been almost completely renovated and redesigned, while Budapest mostly reserves its look from the 20th century.

A good example for this is the 2017 action spy movie Atomic Blonde, which chose Budapest as a double for 1980s Berlin, as well as London and Paris because these cities have been modernised so much in the last few decades that Budapest is the best option for conveying an authentic atmosphere.

Love in the Time of War in Bosnia

Angelina Jolie made her directorial debut in 2011 with a film almost completely shot in Hungary. In the Land of Blood and Honey is a love story set during the Bosnian war.

Such locations were used as settings for this touching movie as Roses’ Square, Városliget lake, Szent Erzsébet church and many other places which doubled as Bosnian locations. Jolie chose Budapest because the crumbling walls of the city’s certain block of flats were really authentic as the location of the Bosnian war.

Exorcism in Rome

In 2010 another great Oscar Winning actor was shooting in Budapest. Anthony Hopkins was filming his new horror flick called The Rite, which was set in Rome. Naturally Budapest’s locations played the great Italian capital.

Important scenes of the movie were filmed in the Buda Castle (the Royal Castle in Budapest) and at Basilica Square (a cobblestone square in the heart of Budapest). The filmmakers used one of the most fabulous halls that Budapest offers: some scenes of the movie were taken at the grandiose and luxurious hall of the Palace of Justice.

Great Laughs in Saint Petersburg

Woody Allen used to be known for almost only shooting movies in New York, but he made an exception in 1974 and chose Budapest for shooting several scenes of his comedy Love and Death starring Diane Keaton.

The movie was set in Saint Petersburg during the Napoleonic invasion of Russia. The war comedy’s outdoors scenes were shot in the old, medieval streets of the Buda Castle District. Our historic Opera House also posed as the Saint Petersburg opera house from the 19th century.

A Serial Killer on the Loose in Baltimore

Budapest can double any city in the world not just the great European ones.

While John Cusack was playing Edgar Allan Poe in James McTeigue fiction film called The Raven, Budapest was playing 19th century Baltimore just as authentically. The ball scene was captured at the Palace of Justice, while in another scene Cusack was searching for the movie’s serial killer at the secluded Szobi street with century old architecture. In order to create the atmosphere and the looks of 19th century Baltimore, the film crew covered the ground with sand and brought horse carriages to the street.

Not many cities are capable of playing so many roles as Budapest. Budapest is not a character actor, it is just as authentic as Berlin, Paris or any other great city in the world. But besides Budapest being a great illusionist, as people see more of Budapest and get to know this gorgeous city better, they realize its beauty and potential, which results in Budapest playing itself (like in Royal Pains) at more and more occasions nowadays.

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