Just months after taking office last fall, Hungarian film commissioner Csaba Káel laid out plans to revamp the country’s film and television industries, starting with an overhaul of the National Film Institute (formerly the Hungarian National Film Fund) at the beginning of the year. Plans are underway to boost content development and production and expand already formidable studio facilities in what is the second-biggest production hub in Europe, after the U.K.
Hungary offers a 30% rebate on qualifying spend for the production of feature films, short films, documentaries, animated films and TV series; the rebate can reach 37.5% through the addition of qualifying non-Hungarian costs. The government-backed National Film Institute is also providing robust support for local filmmakers with €50 million ($54 million) in production funding for 2020.
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In the past year, Hungary has hosted such high-profile productions as Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures’ sci-fi tentpole “Dune,” as well as the Netflix fantasy series “The Witcher” and “Shadow and Bone.” Skilled, non-unionized crews are accustomed to working at a world-class level, while companies such as Mid Atlantic Films and Pioneer Stillking Films have an established track record of servicing international projects.
Origo Studios, the country’s largest, boasts nine sound stages totaling nearly 200,000 sq. ft. and a 10-acre backlot, while Korda Studios has six sound stages, a water tank, and backlots that include permanent New York, medieval and renaissance sets. Plans are underway for a massive expansion of the state-owned Mafilm Studio complex, including the addition of four new soundstages. ARRI Rental also has a 26,000-square-foot facility outside Budapest.
The industry had been operating at close to full capacity before the coronavirus pandemic shut production down. Among the projects shooting in Budapest that are looking to return to production later this year are “The Nightingale,” from Sony label TriStar Pictures, and the Amazon Studios film “Birds of Paradise.”