Theme park, masterclass draw fans, filmmakers

Korda Studios is pulling out all the stops to gain an edge in East Europe’s increasingly cutthroat movie industry.

This summer, the studio, one of two large film-studio complexes operating in Hungary, launched a €4.47 million ($6.3 million) tourist-friendly theme park and hosted a world-class cinematography school to raise its profile, and compete with rivals like the U.S.-owned Raleigh Studios Budapest and Prague’s Barrandov Studios.

According to Korda, the theme park, which features a 4,600 square-foot exhibition area and a 3,600 square-foot restaurant, is the first of its kind in the region, and will bring in additional revenue.

Although a far cry from being a kind of mega-theme park like Universal Studios, Korda’s exhibition center includes a museum dedicated to Hungarian film history (which includes such Hollywood pioneers as Alexander Korda), and interactive installations that re-create the moviemaking experience for guests.

The park includes studio tours on sets for Universal’s “Hellboy II” (shot at the studio in 2008), and the Showtime historical series “The Borgias,” which is now shooting its second season at the facility.

In a bid to cultivate filmmaking talent, Korda hosted in early September the Budapest Cinematography Masterclass, in which top film students from around the world came to Budapest for two weeks of instruction from cinematographers Billy Williams, Laszlo Kovacs and Vilmos Zsigmond. Korda also hosted the 2009 Masterclass.

According to Korda’s CEO Tamas Csapo, the studio hosts events like these as part of its commitment to support young film industry professionals. “Like every other industry, the new generation represents the future,” Csapo says.

Both the film park and masterclass come at a time of increasing activity at the studio. In May, Korda announced that its six soundstages would be filled to capacity for the remainder of 2011.

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