“Extraction 2,” the planned sequel to one of Netflix’s most successful original movies, will now shoot in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic. The Chris Hemsworth-starring actioner had been set to lens in Australia.
Crew who had already begun preparations in New South Wales, Australia were informed on Friday by Netflix and the Russo brothers’ AGBO production company, sources told Variety. Sources close Netflix say the decision to move was motivated by COVID and shutdown concerns.
The sequel was written by Joe Russo and produced by Joe and Anthony Russo.
Other sources put the move into a wider context, explaining that Hemsworth’s tight schedule and the growing uncertainties associated with shooting in Australia make relocation a safe choice. Hemsworth is scheduled to be back in Australia by November or December to start pre-production of Mad Max franchise movie “Furiosa.”
For about a year starting in mid-2020, Australia was one of the world’s busiest destinations for filming movies and TV series. It achieved that feat through a robust coronavirus response and generous production incentives.
Australia’s attraction has waned in recent months due to a low rate of vaccination, the arrival of the more infectious COVID-19 delta variant and a sprawl of localized logistical complications.
There are currently lockdowns in the urban areas of leading screen production hubs Sydney, New South Wales (until Sept. 30) and Melbourne, Victoria. Surrounding suburban and rural areas have not always moved at the same speed. However, juggling border restrictions, authorized worker lists and changing local rules is becoming too troublesome for large film crews.
Shooting movies and series can be certified as essential work activities in Australia, allowing smaller productions to press ahead while operating under strict health protocols. But even these are not foolproof. The Russell Crowe-directed “Poker Face” was shut down on Tuesday, after a confirmed COVID-19 case among its crew.
At the beginning of this month, WarnerMedia’s HBO film “Days of Abandonment” in Sydney was canceled when its star Natalie Portman, already in Australia having shot Marvel’s “Thor: Love and Thunder,” dropped out for unexplained personal reasons.
In June, Netflix bailed on another Australia production when it cut in half the Melissa McCarthy-starring “God’s Favorite Idiot.” Eight of the planned 16 episodes were in the can. Netflix was understood to be considering completing the total at a later date.
Production of the first “Extraction” movie, the tale of a mercenary who takes on a mission in Bangladesh, was originally expected to shoot in Australia and India, standing in for Dhaka. But after the Indian shoot ceased to be viable, much of the production shifted to Thailand instead.