Czech film biz at rest after active year

'Alien vs Predator,' 'Tristan & Isolde' still to shoot

PRAGUE — Film production in the Czech Republic is winding down for the approaching holidays. After logging the country’s most productive year by far — an estimated $300 million spent on all film production, up 52% from 2002’s previous record year — Prague, the main focus of production, seems positively calm.

Terry Gilliam had something extra to be thankful for when “The Brothers Grimm” wrapped its 22-plus-week shoot Nov. 27.

Film was originally skedded to shoot in 17 weeks, but a replacement cinematographer (Newton Thomas Siegel) and the complicated effects resulted in the delay.

Despite some rumors that Gilliam was headed toward another “Lost in La Mancha” mire, local production vets were sanguine about the filming.

Shots using star Matt Damon (who plays one half of the brotherly duo, along with Heath Ledger) did have to be rushed in the final weeks when his end-of-shoot date cut into the prolonged schedule.

Film was shot on location and at the Barrandov studio’s soundstages and back lot. New production outfit Reforma Films handled local production services for producers Daniel Bobker, Charles Roven and John D. Schofield. Pic co-stars Jonathan Pryce and Lena Headey.

That leaves the relatively low-budget “Tristan & Isolde,” with a cast of young up-and-comers directed by Kevin Reynolds for producer Moshe Diamant, and splashy sci-fi pic “Alien vs Predator.” “Tristan & Isolde” is due to wrap by mid-December, and “Alien vs Predator” will break for the holidays.

Titles possible for Prague shoots next year include “Oliver Twist” by Roman Polanski, said to be nearly confirmed, and “Watchmen,” a large action film for Revolution.

And 2004 could be the year the impossible happens, if Tom Cruise (once the bane of Prague when he publicly denounce the Czechs after filming “Mission: Impossible” here) returns with his latest installment of the series.