Subscribe to our newsletter

A Cinematic Haven in the Adria Region

Art

Share post:

Captivating landscapes, competitive production costs, rich film heritage, skilled crews and enticing financial incentives draw foreign film crews to the region. Croatia and Serbia, in particular, are becoming hotspots for big-budget studio projects

The Adria Region, a rising star in the film and television industry, offers a unique blend of captivating landscapes, competitive production costs, rich film heritage, and skilled crews. Once overshadowed by Hungary and the Czech Republic, it has now emerged as an appealing destination for foreign film productions. Western Balkan countries boast stunning landscapes, including mountains, lakes, rivers and picturesque countryside. Well-preserved historical sites, charming old towns and modern urban settings are prevalent. Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro have beautiful coastlines, allowing filmmakers to capture a wide range of visuals without extensive travel.

SEAL Team Season 3. Photo credits: Courtesy of Aleksandar Letic

A significant cost advantage of the Adria Region is a major draw for foreign film productions. The region’s rich filmmaking heritage and history of hosting numerous foreign productions further enhance its appeal. Serbia and Croatia, in particular, have well-developed film industries supported by highly skilled crews and state-of-the-art studios, making them ideal locations for big-budget projects.

Croatia, with its stunning coastlines and historical sites, became a Hollywood favourite after HBO’s Game of Thrones

Financial incentives are a key advantage for foreign production. Serbia leads with a cash rebate of 25% for projects over $350,000 and 30% for projects over $5.4 million. Other countries, including Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro, offer up to 25% cash rebate. North Macedonia stimulates investments for projects, offering up to 20%. These incentives, combined with other advantages, make the former Yugoslavia a highly attractive destination for foreign film productions.

The region’s potential for international filmmaking is best illustrated by the success of recent projects. Croatia and Serbia have hosted a range of big-budget studio projects. From scenes in major blockbusters to B-list movies and TV series, the region has proven its versatility and appeal, offering a wealth of diverse and cost-effective filming locations.

Croatia

Croatia was among the first Balkan nations to woo Hollywood productions after HBO’s Game of Thrones chose Dubrovnik to film exteriors of King’s Landing. This success from 2011 opened doors for Hollywood productions and drew attention to Croatia as a film (and tourism) destination. Since then, Croatia has lured big productions, including HBO’s Succession. Croatian sets have often doubled for locations from other countries. At the same time, Lionsgate’s action comedy The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard and Amazon Prime Video’s The Wheel of Time were represented as authentic locations.

Over the last decade, Serbia has drawn big projects like Netflix’s Glass Onion and Johnny Depp’s Minamata

Serbia

Over the last ten years, Serbia has become a sought-after film destination for large projects such as Netflix’s Glass Onion, Johnny Depp’s Minamata, and the British-American crime series Miss Scarlet and The Duke. Producer-director Jonathan English filmed Ironclad and its sequel Ironclad: Battle for Blood, and even decided to move to Belgrade, where he established a production company that produced The Outpost (seasons 2, 3, and 4), Seal Team, and The Ark, all made in Serbia. Important films include Crawl (2019), Ibiza (2018), The November Man (2012) and Luc Besson’s Anna. In 2021, the highly anticipated Knives Out 2, featuring Daniel Craig, Naomi Watts and Edward Norton, was partially filmed in Belgrade. The main star location for film crews in recent years was Stara Planina (The Old Mountain), whose scenery was perfect for the 2022 Australian Oscar Nominee You Won’t Be Alone and the Bollywood blockbuster Uri: The Surgical Strike. According to Tanja Mitić from the Serbia Film Commission, 29 municipalities and towns are designated as ‘film friendly,’ attracting numerous international film crews due to streamlined shooting procedures.

The November Man filmed in Montenegro

Slovenia

Before the increased interest in film production, Slovenia was particularly attractive to advertisers in the automotive industry. Filmmakers then discovered the Mediterranean town centre of Piran, and the rest is history. Piran’s most recent film title shot is the action thriller The Union with a star-studded cast (Halle Berry, Mark Wahlberg, and J. K. Simmons). The most famous film with scenes shot in Slovenia is The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008). Another example is The Witcher (2019), filmed by Netflix and considered one of the most popular TV series of all time. Recent credits include the high fantasy television series The Wheel of Time (2021) and Infinite Storm (2022) starring Naomi Watts. The South Korean film crew of the popular Black Knight TV series also worked there. Scenes for Bollywood films were shot at various locations.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

The most high-profile production shot in Bosnia and Herzegovina was In the Land of Blood and Honey, directed by Angelina Jolie. Another notable movie is No Man’s Land, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2001. The city of Mostar has been a popular location for filmmakers, with movies such as The Hunting Party and The Peacemaker having been shot there. Most productions in Bosnia are still centred on war-related themes, including Twice Born (2011) with Penelope Cruz and Triage (2009) with Colin Farrell. In terms of international film and TV production, Bosnia struggles to compete with larger neighbours Croatia and Serbia, which have become important centres of activity.

Montenegro

Over the last decade, several big productions have shot parts of their films in Montenegro. Michael Noer’s Papillon (2017), starring Charlie Hunnam and Rami Malek, made the most of the country’s location diversity. Other examples include Rian Johnson’s The Brothers Bloom (2011), Roger Donaldson’s use of the striking Boka Bay as Lake Geneva in The November Man (2014), and most recently, Andrew Levitas shot some of the Japan scenes for Minamata (2020) around Tivat. Local production houses can service small and mid-sized productions, while for bigger productions, it is easy to bring in larger crews and equipment from neighbouring countries.

North Macedonia

The government of North Macedonia actively supports the film industry and encourages foreign productions. Numerous co-productions with neighbouring countries have been produced over the years. With its iconic Stone Bridge and Old Bazaar, Skopje has been featured in several movies such as The Third Half and Shadows. The movies The Lake and Balkan Is Not Dead were filmed in the surroundings of Ohrid’s historic architecture and picturesque lake. Recently, famous US actor John Malkovich announced a plan to build Stonebridge Studios, a film, music and media production facility in Skopje that is supposed to be the largest of its kind in the Balkans.

The Adria region offers a rich tapestry of backdrops to entice any filmmaker. With stunning landscapes, financial incentives, skilled crews and a growing international reputation, the region is poised to attract even more film projects in the near future.

spot_img

Related articles

Bosnia and Herzegovina Tops Regional Service Quality Rankings

Bosnia and Herzegovina has once again emerged as the star performer in the region, achieving the highest service...

Western Balkans Urged to Invest $37 Billion to Combat Climate Change

The six economies of the Western Balkans must collectively invest at least USD 37 billion over the next...

Živko Mukaetov, CEO/MB President of Alkaloid AD Skopje

Our Brands are Part of People’s Lives

Here we discuss a tradition dating back almost nine decades, brands built by generations of employees, investments in...

Let’s Celebrate Opportunities

One of the articles in this edition of Connecting the Region, devoted to demystifying our region’s water resources,...