Despite current travel restrictions, a flurry of high-profile U.S. films and series are set to shoot in France, including Lionsgate’s “John Wick: Chapter 4” and Netflix’s “The Gray Man.” Starz mini-series “The Serpent Queen,” meanwhile, has been shooting in southern France since April.
Paris hadn’t hosted any big American shoots for over a year as France struggled to ride out the various waves of the pandemic. The country finally emerged from a lengthy lockdown, lifting most restrictions as COVID-19 cases began dropping and more of the population received vaccinations. A 9 p.m. curfew is still in place but doesn’t apply to film productions, which are allowed to film at night with a certificate.
“John Wick: Chapter 4,” directly by Chad Stahelski, will soon begin filming in France. Keanu Reeves, who headlines the action-packed franchise and plays a retired hitman seeking vengeance, is now in France and was recently staying at the posh George V Hotel. The movie will film exteriors in Paris, notably by the Seine, and will include scenes at an iconic bridge that was previously featured in Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” among other films. The production — which will first shoot in Berlin, Germany, and at the famous Babelsberg Studios — will film in France for a couple of weeks. The plot remains under wraps but we know that the action primarily takes place in Paris and Berlin.
Another large-scale production due to shoot in Paris is Joe and Anthony Russo’s “The Gray Man,” starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans. Netflix’s most financially ambitious film so far, “The Gray Man” will shoot near Paris at the Château de Chantilly, a lavish castle built in the 19th century for Henri d’Orléans, the son of the last king of France, Louis-Philippe. Like “John Wick: Chapter 4,” “The Gray Man” will shoot in France for a couple weeks.
“These productions have been preparing themselves for months and they could not come any sooner because of strict travel restrictions and lockdown measures,” said Michel Gomez, the general delegate of Mission Cinema, an org that coordinates shoots in the French capital.
Both films will benefit from France’s 30% tax rebate for international shoots, which requires foreign productions to film in the country for at least five days and spend a minimum of €250,000 ($305,511) locally. Productions can also have access to an additional 10% tax rebate if they have some visual effects done in France, which will be the case with “The Serpent Queen.”
The 16th-century drama, produced for Starz by Lionsgate Television and 3 Arts Entertainment, has been filming since April in the south of France and the Provence Studios in Marseille. It’s currently shooting in a castle known as the Chateau de Clemenceau.
Penned and executive produced by Justin Haythe (“Revolutionary Road”), the eight-episode series stars Samantha Morton as Catherine de Medici, and is based on the book “Catherine de Medici: Renaissance Queen of France” by Leonie Frieda.
The international cast also includes Amrita Acharia (“Game of Thrones”), Enzo Cilenti (“Free Fire”), Barry Atsma (“The Hitman’s Bodyguard”) and Ludivine Sagnier (“Lupin”), among others.
“It’s a massive five-month shoot that will end in September. It’s one of the biggest shoots we’ve had here, with beautiful decors and costumes,” said an executive close the production. “Last week, we had 465 people on the set.”
A seven-day quarantine is currently mandatory for U.S. and U.K. travelers to France. The French government is expected to make the quarantine advisory rather than mandatory for U.S. travelers starting from June 9, which could make it easier for more U.S. productions to come lens in France. The health protocol on shoots in France, however, isn’t as strict as in many other countries since testing isn’t mandatory and results are not publicly disclosed without permission.