Summer pix fill Prague

Films flock to country for lensing

PRAGUE — After sweating out a long, lonely winter, Prague is hot again with summer films.

“Running Scared,” a low-budget New Jersey Mafia pic, began shooting in late June at Prague Studios. Wayne Kramer directs the eight-week Prague shoot before a follow-up week on location in New Jersey.

More of an action film than Kramer’s “The Cooler,” “Running Scared” stars Paul Walker as the father of a kid who gets hold of a Mafioso’s gun by chance. Media 8 produces.

Prague as a double for New Jersey?

“The reality is that there is a lot you can make look like New Jersey,” says one producer: “bus stations, garages, and lots of strip joints.”

Liev Schreiber’s directing debut, “Everything Is Illuminated,” stays firmly on East European turf. Starring Elijah Wood as a young man searching for the Ukrainian woman who saved his grandfather’s life, “Everything Is Illuminated” began filming on Barrandov’s Hostivar stages in mid-June.

European projects are also booking Prague’s studios:

  • French telepic “The Three Musketeers,” starring Emmanuelle Beart, arrived mid-June for a six-week shoot at Barrandov and castle locations.

  • Roman Polanski’s “Oliver Twist” moved onto Barrandov’s stages in mid-July.

  • Grenada TV’s WWII prison drama “Colditz” wraps up its location shoot on July.

  • ZDF is now finishing a two-part miniseries, “Redeemed by Love,” a 19th-century romancer budgeted at $2.5 million.

Budgets for films coming to Prague this year look lower than last year’s record-setting estimate of around $300 million worth of films shot in the Czech Republic. They included “Alien vs. Predator,” which recently completed additional photography after its winter-long shoot. “Tristan and Isolde” is another holdover from 2003, with delayed filming (due to a knee injury of lead James Franco) now set to be completed in July.

That situation is due to change, however, with news that Universal’s “Doom” is now confirmed for a September-February production schedule. The big-budget pic is in the same vein as “Alien vs. Predator.”

Also headed for Prague is 20th Century Fox’s Swiss-set “Josiah’s Canon,” directed by Brad Ratner and starring Sean Connery, likely for an October shoot.

Less certain is the fate of Brian De Palma’s “Black Dahlia.” Previously headed for Berlin and Rome, the Los Angeles-set pic is now circling Prague.

And rumors are flying about 007. Executives on the next James Bond installment are keen on Prague and have begun talks with studios and service companies, but it looks like a decision may be waiting on the completion of a script.

As one local film exec sums up, “Word that films were no longer coming to Prague was wrong.”

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