Babelsberg’s new role

Studio discovers niche as foreign hub

With films like Jaume Collet-Serra’s Berlinale screener “Unknown” and Roman Polanski’s Silver Bear and European Film Award-winning “The Ghost Writer” to its credit, Studio Babelsberg continues to solidify its position as a major European co-production partner and full-service studio.

Indeed, while “Unknown” and “The Ghost Writer” have become the studio’s latest calling cards, Babelsberg is already underway on its next major international production, Paramount’s “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.”

Directed by Tommy Wirkola, the fairytale-actioner stars Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the grown-up hag-bashing siblings. Babelsberg is co-producing with Gary Sanchez Prods. and is securing federal and regional subsidy funding for the pic.

Babelsberg also co-produced “Unknown,” which stars Liam Neeson. The film, which received some $6.2 million in local support, shot at the studio and around Berlin last year.

Popular on Variety

Germany’s reputation as a friendly and supportive filming location — thanks in large part to its generous regional and federal film subsidies — has brought plenty of business to Babelsberg in recent years.

“The Ghost Writer,” which picked up some $5.4 million in local coin, proved an especially impressive co-production for the studio. While set largely on Martha’s Vineyard and London, the film was completely shot in Germany — at Babelsberg as well as on the islands of Sylt and Usedom. The pic went on to sweep last year’s European Film Awards, picking up six prizes, including best film, director, screenwriter, actor and production designer.

Babelsberg CEO Charlie Woebcken, who also served as the film’s co-producer, says the studio has “earned international recognition, as the film, which is set in the U.S. and in England, was completely shot in Germany. … A great performance regarding locations and production design.”

The studio is also co-producing Joe Wright’s action-thriller “Hanna,” starring Saoirse Ronan, Eric Bana and Cate Blanchett. The pic, which landed some $6.4 million in local coin, shot last year at the studio as well as on location in Berlin, Bavaria, Finland and Morocco.

Other recent Babelsberg co-productions to shoot at the studio include Constantin Film’s “The Three Musketeers,” by Paul W.S. Anderson, and “Chicken with Plums,” Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s live-action follow up to “Persepolis,” starring Isabella Rossellini and Mathieu Amalric.

The latter is a co-production between Paris-based Celluloid Dreams Prods. and TheManipulators, the new joint venture established last year by Babelsberg, Celluloid Dreams and Munich-based equity group Clou Partners.

As a co-production partner and studio facility, Babelsberg serves as a one-stop shop with its wide range of services that include production services, stage rental, set construction and production design.

One of Europe’s largest studio complexes, Babelsberg boasts 16 sound stages with a combined 270,000 sq. ft., including the 80,000-sq. ft. Neue Film 2 and the 60,000-sq. ft. Marlene Dietrich Halle. The studio also offers an expansive 4.2-acre back lot for your exterior filming.

Babelsberg recently added a new indoor water tank for water and underwater filming. Originally built for “Unknown,” the tank holds 500,000 liters at 4-meter depth, making it the largest in Germany. Another recent addition is a hydraulic aircraft interior set.

More from the Berlin Daily: German Cinema:
German gov’t pitches in to help biz

More Film

  • The-Intruder

    Watch the Trailer from Just Announced Berlin Competition Entry ‘The Intruder’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  —  Just minutes after the Berlinale confirmed on Wednesday its selection in main competition, the pedigree producers of Argentine Natalia Meta’s “The Intruder” (“El Prófugo”) have dropped a first teaser-trailer for what has been described as a “pyscho-sexual fantastic thriller.” They have also confirmed more details of one of the buzziest new titles from [...]

  • Roman Polanski’s ‘An Officer and a

    Roman Polanski’s ‘An Officer and a Spy’ Leads Cesar Awards Nominations

    Roman Polanski’s “An Officer and a Spy” is leading the race for the Cesar Awards, France’s top film honors, with 12 nominations, followed by Ladj Ly’s Oscar-nominated “Les Miserables.” “An Officer and a Spy” earned nominations for best film, director, actor (Jean Dujardin), cinematography, set design, costume and music, among others. Although he’s been at [...]

  • Berlin Competition Lineup Features Kelly Reichardt,

    Berlin Film Festival Competition Lineup Revealed: Sally Potter, Kelly Reichardt, Eliza Hittman, Abel Ferrara

    The Berlin International Film Festival has unveiled its 2020 line-up, with 18 films playing in competition from directors such as Abel Ferrara, Sally Potter, Christian Petzold, Hong Sangsoo, Kelly Reichardt and Eliza Hittman. Abel Ferrara’s Willem Dafoe starrer “Siberia” is a world premiere in competition, as is Sally Potter’s “The Roads Not Taken.” Among the [...]

  • Amy Ryan appears in Lost Girls

    'Lost Girls': Film Review

    It’s exciting, and fascinating, to see a great director of documentaries try his or her hand at a dramatic feature, since in theory the essential skill set should all be there. The best documentarians possess an acute visual sense, and they are all, of course, potent storytellers. Yet for every attempt at this sort of [...]

  • "Jojo Rabbit" and "Schitts Creek" Win

    'Jojo Rabbit,' 'Masked Singer' and 'Maleficent' Win Top Honors at Costume Designers Guild Awards

    The Costume Designers Guild handed out its trophies for the 22nd annual CDG Awards with “Jojo Rabbit” and “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” receiving top honors among the costumers. In the TV category, the hit “The Masked Singer” and designer Marina Toybina beat out reigning designer Zaldy (“RuPaul’s Drag Race”) for excellence in variety, reality-competition, live [...]

  • Weathering With You

    Japan Box Office Leaps to $2.4 Billion Record in 2019

    The Japanese box office leaped by 17% in 2019 to set a record $2.4 billion score, according to figures announced Tuesday by the Motion Picture Producers Association of Japan, locally known as Eirin. The previous high was the $2.2 billion recorded in 2016. The Makoto Shinkai animation “Weathering with You” was the highest earning film [...]

  • Lionsgate Developing 'Memetic' Apocalyptic Horror Movie

    Film News Roundup: Lionsgate Developing 'Memetic' Apocalyptic Horror Movie

    In today’s film news roundup, Lionsgate is developing graphic novel “Memetic” as a feature, the latest Laura Ziskin Prize is announced and Firelight Media creates a fund for nonfiction filmmakers of color at the mid-career mark. PROJECT LAUNCHES Lionsgate is in final negotiations for motion picture rights to the apocalyptic horror graphic novel “Memetic” for [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content