Filming in Budapest

Movies Filmed in Hungary

Hungary, where Hollywood blockbusters have been made

Hungary in the last few years has become one of Hollywood’s favourite filming locations. One of the main reasons of this is that the country has countless top filming locations, ones also in the countryside, as well as in the capital city. Budapest is an extraordinarily beautiful city, both when it plays itself or when it doubles for any other city of the world, such as Rome, Moscow, Paris or even Prague.


Next to its exceptional locations, it can offer high quality professional services, experienced professionals with good English skills, first class studios (Korda Studio in Etyek and Origo Studio in Rákospalota), post-production studios and technical equipments and appliances. Another attractive feature for filmmakers is the Hungarian film subsidy system, thanks to which 25 percent of the Hungarian filmmaking costs can be given back in the form of a subsidy.

Hungary in the last few years has become one of Hollywood’s favourite filming locations. One of the main reasons of this is that the country has countless top filming locations, ones also in the countryside, as well as in the capital city. Budapest is an extraordinarily beautiful city, both when it plays itself or when it doubles for any other city of the world, such as Rome, Moscow, Paris or even Prague.


Next to its exceptional locations, it can offer high quality professional services, experienced professionals with good English skills, first class studios (Korda Studio in Etyek and Origo Studio in Rákospalota), post-production studios and technical equipments and appliances. Another attractive feature for filmmakers is the Hungarian film subsidy system, thanks to which 25 percent of the Hungarian filmmaking costs can be given back in the form of a subsidy.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The Cold War spy film that was mainly filmed in Hungary, based on John Le Carré’s novel and features countless iconic locations in Budapest. The film that was premiered in 2011, was nominated for three Oscars and uniquely used the Hungarian capital to play its 1970s self. The crew filmed in Budapest for five days all together. For two days they worked on one scene that is key for the story in the Párizsi Udvar. This eclectic style tenement house and office building, situated in the V. district is Budapest’s only remaining shopping center from the beginning of the 20th century.

The plot is that the spy portrayed by Mark Strong, called Jim Prideaux arrives to Budapest to investigate whether the Russians have been able to penetrate the English Secret Police. Then during the process a spy is killed, so that the character called Gary Oldman gets the task of figuring out who is the built-in double spy. An interesting fact is that the novel is set in Prague, not in Budapest, but the director Tomas Alfredson thought that Budapest would be better at recreating the book’s atmosphere.

Youtube Trailer for tinker tailor soldier spy

Next to the Párizsi Udvar, the Nyugati Train Station and the streets around the Keleti Train Station, as well as one of Budapest’s most famous monument the Halászbástya (Fisherman’s Bastion) , all play main roles in the film. Next to the fact that these locations visually perfectly fit in the film, the atmosphere of the period is given due to the fact that the Párizsi Udvar is of historical significance, because it actually was a popular place for spies to meet.

In the film, next to Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Mark Strong, Benedict Cumberbatch and Tom Hardy, many Hungarian actors appear as well.

Spy

One of 2015’s funniest comedies was the American film Spy, which shows a lot of similarities with the film Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But this spy film has a completely different style, since it does not show a secret agent’s cold, lonely and dangerous life, but is instead unrealistically full of action-packed and comic situations. A mutual aspect of the two films is that they were both filmed in Hungary.

Youtube Behind the Scenes of Spy

This film was a brilliant opportunity to show that next to being able to double for different cities in a chameleon-like fashion, the Hungarian capital can shine as itself as well. One of the film’s stars, Jason Statham said the following about the city in an interview: “It is very beautiful. We have a scene by the Danube and another in a very decorative passageway in the center… it looks as if a fashion designer would have created it. It’s crazy, that it actually exists.”


The world famous rapper 50 Cent, who collaborated in the creation of the film, shared with his Instagram followers how Budapest stunned him.

Main filming locations

Szent István Basilica - Melissa McCarthy chases the baddies with a moped, for which they had to close down the Zrínyi utca for an entire day.

Melissa McCarthy in "Spy"

Gundel Restaurant -  Jude Law’s and Melissa McCarthy’s restaurant scene together was filmed in one of Budapest’s most elegant restaurant, the traditional Gundel restaurant, where they spent had a joke-packed dinner.

Ferihegyi Airport - The Ferihegyi Airport doubles as the Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport.

Gresham Palace - Budapest’s most beautiful Art Nouveau building can be seen in the film.

Szabadság Square - The films’ most complicated chase scene was filmed in Alkotmány, Vécsey and Báthory street.

Néprajzi Museum - The museum and its interior was used for a large scale party scene, where 500 extras party to 50 Cent’s song. According to the script this party was set in Club Nomad in London.

Párizsi Udvar - The Párizsi Udvar was the location for Jason Statham’s chase scene, where the actor plays an agent in trouble. An interesting fact is that they originally wanted to film the scene among passersby without closing down the location, but finally they had to change their plans.

Bálna Budapest - The Bálna is a cultural and commercial center on the Pest side of the River Danube, which got its named after its whale-like appearance. They filmed a festival scene outside the building where the Ukrainian performer, Verka Szergyucska entertained the crowd, while Melissa McCarthy and Jason Statham tried to deactivate a bomb.

Kelenföld Power Plant: The iconic industrial monument,the Kelenföld Power Plant’s control room was the special location for the film’s showdown scene.

Budavári Palace: In another chase scene the Buda Castle plays a Bulgarian castle. The crew also filmed in the cellar system underneath the castle.

Balaton: Lake Balaton, often called the Hungarian sea, was used as itself, as well as the Black Sea. The ideal 19th century villa was found in Balatonfüred. This scene is special because it is the only one where all the main characters are present.

A Good Day to Die Hard

Bruce Willis turned the Hungarian capital city upside down, when in 2012 he came to Hungary to film the Die Hard action film series’ fifth part, called Good Day to Die Hard, from the middle of April to the end of August. Although it is set in Russia, the crew hardly filmed in Russia; only for three days. The film was shot altogether in 40 locations in Budapest, which is why there were multiple road closures and diversions in the city for days on end.

On Hungary’s most modern motor-racing circuit - where they organize the Formula One Grand Prix - the Hungaroring in Mogyoród, they built an enormous set surrounded by a green box, where the dramatic motorway scenes were filmed. For some scenes they filmed on closed areas of the M3 motorway, apart from the more dangerous scenes in which many cars were practically destroyed, which couldn’t be filmed there.

Youtube Behind the Scenes of Die Hard 5 

Apart from the locations, countless Hungarian actors and clothes designers worked on the film. Good Day to Die Hard is certainly one of the largest scale action films to have been shot in Hungary, and not in one of its studios, but on location.

Inferno

After Dan Brown’s novel called The Da Vinci Code and its film adaptation both being extremely successful all around the world, it was not a question whether the writer’s next book will be taken to screen. As the next film after Angels and Demons, they started to film Inferno in 2015 starring Tom Hanks (as in the previous films) based on the book published in 2013.


Most of the filming happened in Hungary, the crew was in Budapest for 50 days, but they also shot in Venice and Florence in Italy, as well as in Istanbul in Turkey. Since this story was set in Florence and Venice, Budapest had to act as these two brilliant Italian cities.


They shot in the Keleti Train Station, on the Chain Bridge and around the Fővám Square, as well as in the Liszt Ferenc Airport’s Terminal 1.

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The interiors acted an especially important part during the shooting. The Hungarian National Museum doubled as Harvard University, the Palace of Justice in Budapest as the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence and the chapel installed in the Kiscelli Museum in Óbuda as Saint Mark's Cathedral’s underground chapel. Tom Hanks’s character’s unsettling visions were filmed by the Opera House and the Andrássy Street and he runs away from his pursuers in a hospital cape in Gutenberg Square.

1271033 - THE WALK

Since Budapest’s historic architecture enthusiastically copies the Florentine palaces’ facades, one can feel Florence’s atmosphere while walking down Budapest’s narrow streets.

Blade Runner

In 2016 Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling spent around half a year in Hungary filming Blade Runner’s second part, Blade Runner 2049. The film is set 30 years after the first film.

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Next to the studio scenes, one can spot the Tőzsdepalota (former building of the stock exchange), near the Szabadság Square, which used to also function as the Hungarian Television’s headquarter. The two actors truly enjoyed themselves during the filming. There are countless photographs of Harrison Ford traveling around the country and trying Hungarian restaurants. An impressive photoshoot of Ryan Gosling at Budapest’s iconic locations was created by Craig McDean for the American magazine GQ.

Youtube Making-Of BLADE RUNNER 2049 

Films Shot in Sound Stages

Filmmakers do not only find Budapest inviting because of its unique Budapest locations, but also because of its studios with up to date, modern technology. The Korda Filmstúdió, in Etyek which is only 28 kilometers away from Budapest, as well as the Origó Filmstúdió in Rákospalota are both able to cater for all needs and expectations of filmmakers, let that be set building or afterwork.


Lately, more and more Hollywood films are made partially or entirely in Hungarian film studios.

The Martian

One of the most successful of the films shot in Hungary is The Martian, premiered in 2015. Starring Matt Damon, the film that won a Golden Globe and was nominated for seven Oscars, was made nearly completely in Hungary, with only a few “martian” scenes filmed in Jordania.


Most of the scenes were shot in the Korda Studio, but multiple exterior locations can also be found in the film, like the futuristic looking cultural centers; the Palace of the Arts, the Bálna and Budapest’s biggest market and exhibition space; the Hungexpo.

Still, most of the scenes were shot in the Korda Studios.

Youtube Behind The Scenes of The Martian 

The shooting lasted 70 days, out of which 50 was spent in the studio. Work was going on in all of the rooms of the Studio. In its biggest space, the 6000m2 big Superstage they build a Mars set, for which they used 4000 tonnes of red sand and made a huge windstorm by an enormous wind machine. They also built in the studio the Mars Rover, as well as creating an actual potato farm, where potatoes were growing in various stages, so that whatever kind of potato was needed for a scene, they would always have some by hand.

Youtube The Martian: Behind the Scenes Movie B-roll

Apart from the studio, other locations consisted of the Bálna as the NASA center, the Palace of the Arts as the Chinese space center and the Hungexpo as the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.


Matt Damon fell in love with Budapest to the extent that he stated that if Budapest would be in America, he would move there.

Mars (National Geographic series)

National Geographic’s realistic, science-based sci-fi series called Mars is another space travel film, but its genre completely differs from The Martian’s. The story is set in 2033 and shows the story of the first Mars mission. The filming started in May 2016, in the Planetarium in the Gödöllői University, the Bálna and the Budaörsi Airport, the spaceship scenes were shot in the sets built in the Origo Filmstudio.


The Mars base was created after long and in-depth planning, so that it would be as realistic as possible. The constructed base had nearly everything that a real spaceship has, with a diner, a changing room, corridors, a bedroom and a cockpit.

Youtube behind the scenes of mars

The film 47 Ronin, starring Keanu Reeves is also worth mentioning, because many of the fantasy samurai action film was shot in the Origo Filmstudio. They even built a complete Japanese village, as well as four 6-meter tall ship interiors.

Both the Hungarian professionals, as well as the government aspires to make Hungary a true film world-power and to have more and more super productions shot in the country. The unique Hungarian locations and the government induced beneficial tax conditions encourage international film crews to execute their productions in Hungary.

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