One of the world’s most popular film location, Hungary has hosted some of the screen’s biggest blockbusters.
From serving as the setting for locations as disparate as Southern California and Los Angeles in Terminator: Dark Fate to recreating the German city of Munich during the 1970s, Hungary and the capital city, Budapest provide one of the most varied backdrops for the world’s stories of any country and major metropolis out there.
We’ve compiled a list of ten of the biggest blockbusters to be filmed entirely or partially within Hungary, what scenes specifically detail the shooting location as well as the teams and actors behind it all.
Here are our top 10 movies filmed in Hungary:
1. Terminator: Dark Fate
The latest film in the long running franchise that made Arnold Schwarzenegger famous, this installment was helmed by Tim Miller with James Cameron producing and starring an all-star cast of series luminaries including the aforementioned Terminator, first film female protagonist Linda Hamilton, newcomer Mackenzie Davis, and Gabriel Luna as the unstoppable new machine hunting down humanity’s last great hope. Cinematographer Ken Seng chose locations in the United States and in Hungary including Origo Studios in Budapest. One of the film’s marquee sequences, a plane fuselage action scene, was filmed on location in Budapest on a full-size set piece designed by special effects supervisor Neil Corbould that was mounted to a gimbal for up and down as well as side to side rotation of the entire piece. Other scenes involving a falling Humvee, underwater action sequences, and a detention center location in an old Nokia factory as well as Arnold’s scenes at a Mercedes-Benz factory in Kecskemét.
2. Gemini Man
Director Ang Lee’s blockbuster starring Will Smith as well as Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Clive Owen, Benedict Wong is as notable for its luscious set pieces as for its incredible story. Produced by industry veteran Jerry Bruckheimer, among others, Dion Beebe provided cinematography direction and, in particular, the selection of Hungary’s own Széchenyi Thermal Bath in Budapest. An iconic location that cannot be mistaken for anywhere else, the baths have made appearances in other productions though none quite as large as this vehicle from Bruckheimer and Ang Lee.
3. World War Z
Perhaps one of the biggest spectacles to come out of the zombie apocalypse craze of the 2000s and early 2010s, Brad Pitt stars in “World War Z”, a film based upon a book of the same name that samples locations from around the globe in its effort to tell the tale of humanity facing extinction due to the “Zed” infestation that threatens to overwhelm them all. Directed by Marc Forster and produced by Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, and Ian Bryce, “World War Z’s” Ben Seresin directed cinematography and chose Budapest as the filming location for a massive battle sequence instead of using a Russian set the production team had planned on utilizing. Filming on the 10th of October, 2011 in a warehouse in Budapest was interrupted by Hungary’s Counter Terrorism Centre because a private plane commissioned by the production team, carrying no less than 85 assault rifles, sniper rifles, and handguns, was flown into the country without prior clearance from authorities. Interestingly, the weapons were supposed to be props and were indicated by paperwork as being such yet arrived fully operational. Authorities in Hungary dropped the charges in 2012 after failing to properly assess who or what organization, in particular, was responsible for the incident.
4. Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol
Mission Impossible, the television-to-film series that Tom Cruise has shepherded to international success, is no stranger to international film locations and 2011’s Ghost Protocol is no exception. Featuring direction from Brad Bird and production by J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, and Cruise himself, Ghost Protocol involves an aerial shot of Budapest Keleti Train Station. The city is spliced with scenes from the Art Nouveau Departures Hall of Hlavni-Nadrazi in the capital of the Czech Republic’s (Prague) main Railway Station on Wilsonova in a scene between actors Josh Holloway and Léa Seydoux.
5. Season of the Witch
Director Dominic Sena’s 2011 supernatural action film starring Nicolas Cage, Ron Perlman, and Claire Foy, among others, is noted for its evocation of old Hollywood horror as well as its usage of lush set pieces that evoke a gothic sentimentality. Cinematographer Amir Mokri selected Castle Kreuzenstein in Austria as well as the Loser Mountains as the primary filming locations for “Season of the Witch”. It shows the countryside and interior locations from both Styria and Hungary as well in a general intermingling of Central-Southern European influences to convey the tale of a woman accused of witchcraft heading for an exorcism in a forbidding stone castle fortress.
This Steven Spielberg historical thriller based on the book Vengeance by George Jonas centers on the events in Munich during the 1972 Summer Olympics where the Israeli team was attacked by the terrorist group Black September. Starring Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciarán Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, and Geoffrey Rush, this gripping film not only recreates the tragic scenes from Munich but also conveys the particular zeitgeist and anxieties of the 1970s. Filmed on location in Hungary as a stand-in for the southern German city of Munich, locations such as Budapest’s Puskás Ferenc Stadium serve as the Olympic Stadium from the film Tököl Airport is used as the location for the Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base. Cinematographer Janusz Kamiński contrasted these scenes in Hungary with others in Malta, representing Israel in the film.
7. An American Rhapsody
This tale of a young girl’s quest to find her identity while straddling an existence between two countries, Hungary and the United States, switches between locations in both countries to convey its story. Director Éva Gárdos and cinematographer Elemér Ragályi decided on this authentic, organic approach in order to bolster the already-masterful performances turned in by Nastassja Kinski, Scarlett Johansson, Tony Goldwyn, and Mae Whitman.
8. Music Box
Loosely based on the story of John Demjanjuk, Costa-Gavras 1989 vehicle, like American Rhapsody, is an immigrant’s story as well as one that highlights the complex period of time many countries faced in the aftermath of World War II. Principle filming began in the United States but was then moved to Hungary at the direction of cinematographer Patrick Blossier who wanted to evoke a more authentically Eastern European backdrop for his story. Locations include scenes on set at the Mafilm Studios in Budapest as well as various other places.
9. Hercules (2014)
This action spectacular from Brett Ratner tackles a classic myth from Greek mythology and combines cinematography with special effects for a result that blends reality and technical mastery. Starring none other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as well as Ian McShane, Rufus Sewell, Joseph Fiennes, Peter Mullan, and John Hurt, Hercules oozes with big-budget fireworks. Cinematographer Dante Spinotti is noted for his wizardry in the effects department as he transformed locations from modern-day Hungary and Budapest into the ancient Mediterranean.
10. Red Heat
A buddy cop film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Belushi, this 1988 film from Walter Hill is also a Cold War spectacle involving international hijinks. Initially slated to film in the Soviet Union, including Moscow’s iconic Red Square, cinematographer Matthew F. Leonetti was forced to recenter the film in Hungary as a stand-in for communist-era Moscow. Prominent locations utilized in this film include Buda Castle in which Schwarzenegger is chasing a mafioso drug lord as well as scenes from the Lukács Baths.