In recent years, Hungary has become one of the hottest locations for sci-fi flicks, ranging from “Dune” to “Slingshot”, and the momentum is going strong with several other productions in the pipeline.
It is easy to see why Hungary is so popular thanks to the availability of well-trained staff, tax breaks for movie production, as well as the presence of cutting-edge facilities. All of these factors contributed to the success of movies like “Blade Runner 2049”, “Dune”, and “Spectral”.
Here are just a few examples of high-quality productions shot, or partially filmed, in Hungary:
Blade Runner 2049
The production of “Blade Runner 2049” rolled into Hungary in 2016, with production taking place not only in Budapest but also in the picturesque town of nearby Etyek. Featuring A-list actors Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, the story follows Blade Runner K’s adventures, which eventually leads him to former Blade Runner Rick Deckard, the hero of the original movie released in the 1980’s. The film features several easily recognizable landmarks, such as the former state television HQ and the Nagyvárad tér subway station.
It is no wonder that after the success of “Blade Runner”, director Denis Villeneuve returned to the country with “Dune”, shooting significant chunks of the movie here. The sets created here with cutting-edge technology served as the interiors of three planets in the universe inspired by Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, first published in 1965. Some of the models required a gigantic Antonov cargo plane for transportation.
In the end, the critically-acclaimed film made more than $400 million against a budget of about $165 million, marking another huge success for movies shot in Hungary. The second installment of “Dune”, set to come out in 2023, is now in production and it should come as no surprise to anyone that shooting started in July 2022 in Budapest, at ORIGO Studios.
“Halo”, an American military sci-fi TV series developed by Kyle Killen and Steven Kane, follows an epic 26th-century conflict between humanity and an alien threat known as the Covenant. It is yet another production which was filmed in Budapest. Based on a popular video game franchise of the same name, the total production costs of the first season is estimated to amount to over $90 million. Filming for the second season is already underway in Iceland but the production is expected to move to Hungary later on in 2022.
Terminator: Dark Fate
The latest installment of the “Terminator” franchise – spearheaded by Arnold Schwarzenegger who was often seen in Budapest having lunch with his old producer, the late Andy Vajna – was also shot in a variety of locations all throughout Hungary. Apart from the special-effects-rich scenes filmed at ORIGO Studios in the Hungarian capital, the crew also got creative and utilized locations in the countryside, such as the Mercedes–Benz factory in the city of Kecskemét. An old Nokia factory in Komárom was used as a detention center on the U.S.-Mexico border, showcasing not only the creativity of the production crew but also the incredible flexibility of Hungarian filming locations.
An action thriller with science fiction elements, “Gemini Man” sees Will Smith pitched against… a younger version of Will Smith. Production started in February 2018, with the process moving to the iconic Széchenyi Baths in Budapest in May. Other locations featured in the film include the old state television headquarters and the eclectic Vajdahunyad Castle in Budapest’s lush, green City Park. Just before the movie’s premier, Smith celebrated his 51st birthday with a special concert in the Hungarian capital.
“Spectral”, a 3D military science fiction, supernatural horror fantasy, and action-adventure thriller war film was released on streaming platforms around the world in late 2016. Shooting began more than two years earlier and the production crew expertly utilized various streets and buildings in Budapest, relying extensively on practical effects and locations to evoke an authentic, gritty atmosphere. Other filming locations included the Buda Castle, which served as the location of the landing zone sequence, and the iconic Gellért Hill.
Outside the Wire
Another streaming special, “Outside the Wire”, also featured some of Budapest’s iconic spots as its filming locations. Starring Anthony Mackie, who is also the producer, the science fiction action movie revolves around an android officer working with a drone pilot on a mission to stop a global disaster. “Outside the Wire” was filmed in Budapest, featuring places such as the Kelenföld Power Station, some of the Hungarian countryside, the Mátra Power Plant and the town of Visonta.
With an impressive lineup like this and several productions already being shot in Hungary, one has to wonder about what upcoming science fiction movie will be filmed here next. One of the projects underway, in addition to the above-mentioned ones, is Mikael Håfström’s “Slingshot,” which went into production in Hungary last December. It would surely be interesting to see huge franchises, such as “Alien” or “Star Wars” enter the Hungarian scene, since both universes are expected to expand in the near future.
Cover credit: IMDb