Contrary to what some may say, Hollywood blockbusters don’t rely exclusively on Hollywood resources. They might have won the hearts of fans and critics all over the globe, but that doesn’t mean their magic happened solely on sound stages and movie sets constructed in Los Angeles and other parts of the US.
Here are some shining examples of worldwide famous movies and TV shows that were filmed in Slavic countries, with said filming locations severely contributing to these titles’ international success.
Game Of Thrones (Croatia)
The award-winning HBO TV show based on George Martin’s popular book series has explored Croatia like no other team of Hollywood film scouts ever will. Throughout the TV series’ seasons various parts of Croatia have been used as medieval fantasy backdrops. Dubrovnik, Split, Mosor Mountain, Baška Voda, Klis Fortress, Trsteno Arboretum and Fort Lovrijenac are just some of the sites featured in the series.
300: The Rise Of An Empire (Bulgaria)
Speaking of action-packed, epic settings, the 2014 movie 300: The Rise Of An Empire’s principal photography was carried out on the sets of Nu Boyana Film Studios in Sofia, Bulgaria. Lena Headey’s acting against Slavic backdrops is obviously a proven formula for successful movies since the project scored a whopping $337 million USD worldwide against a $110 million USD budget.
Underworld: Blood Wars (Czech Republic)
Blood Wars was the movie that finally made fans of the Underworld franchise rejoice after its cringeworthy prequel Awakening. Underworld: Blood Wars was partially filmed on the grounds of Hluboká Castle, which was the home of the Eastern Coven – a powerful and merciless gathering of vampires with elite bloodlines. The rest of the movie was shot on sets in Prague Studios in the Czech capital.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (Czech Republic)
While we’re on the subject of Czech filming locations, here’s a movie partially shot in the Czech Republic, which broke all of its predecessors’ records. Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the fourth installment in the popular franchise, became the highest grossing one with a total of $694 million USD in box office revenue. You can see Czech territory in the opening scene which took place in a real prison near Prague (meant to be a Russian prison near Moscow in the movie). Some additional scenes (streets, hospital escape, bridges, railways, etc.) were also filmed on Czech soil.
The Academy Award nominated 1996 movie Dragonheart was shot exclusively in Slovakia. A variety of locations were used for its sets and many scenes feature backdrops of the Spiš, Čachtice and Strečno castle grounds. Let’s face it, as great as Dennis Quaid, Jason Isaacs, David Thewlis and Brian Thompson were, you can’t undermine the fact that Slovakia’s landscapes are partially responsible for the movie’s outstanding performance.
The Terror (Croatia)
Here’s another successful TV show that features Slavic production locations. The Terror, AMC’s dramatic thriller series, is often praised for its atmospheric setting, which in real life takes place on the Island of Pag in Croatia. Masterfully representing the perilous world of the 1848 navy stranded near the Artic, the island’s barren and rather haunting landscapes are exactly what the series needed in order to stir up the interest of millions of viewers.
Mechanic: Resurrection (Bulgaria)
Jason Statham’s name evokes immediate associations with badass stunts and tough-guy characters. His 2016 action thriller with Jessica Alba and Tommy Lee Jones, Mechanic: Resurrection, performed notably better at the box office than its prequel from 2011. Many of the sequel’s cinematic sceneries were played out in various locations spread across Bulgaria, including Buzludzha, Sofia and Varna.
Resident Evil: Retribution and The Final Chapter (Russia)
Slavic actress Milla Jovovich’s brilliant acting skills are the biggest culprit for the grand fanbase of the Resident Evil franchise, but no one can deny that watching a bunch of rogue zombified humans (and crows, mutant giants, dragons…) pillage and destroy before Jovovich kicks their ass isn’t fun. And one of the most famous landmarks that gets destroyed throughout the series is the Red Square in Moscow, Russia, which was used for the filming of Resident Evil: Retribution and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.
Narnia: Prince Caspian (Slovenia and Poland)
Gory zombies left aside, here’s a child-friendly franchise that won the hearts of many long before the books were adapted into movies. A little known fact is that Narnia (or rather parts of it) is actually in… Slovenia and Poland! The second installment of The Chronicles of Narnia was partially filmed in the Soča river valley. The location scouts, director and producers spent 8 entire months in search of the ideal places that could portray the magical Narnia and Slovenian shores proved to be the perfect spot. Other Slavic territories used in Prince Caspian include Poland’s Dolnoslaskie outskirts where various landscapes of Narnia’s mountains were filmed.
1998’s Blade marked a new era for superhero movies and vampires in pop culture. Wesley Snipes’ final portrayal of the Marvel character took place in Moscow. The scene shows an ostensibly ordinary Russian couple strolling down the Red Square with Blade interfering with a smug remark in Russian just as the man, who turns out to be a vamp, is about to make a dinner meal out of his companion. The ominous, yet beautiful Moscow amidst a snowfall at nighttime compliments the atmosphere of the entire movie and wraps it up neatly, making you wonder where Blade’s adventures will take him next.