Croatia’s strategy of encouraging the filming of blockbuster shows on its shores is paying off, with several high-profile films choosing the South-Eastern European destination as a backdrop – including the next James Bond movie and Mamma Mia sequel. Croatia is becoming a magnet for star-studded filmmakers: Julia Robert’s husband filmed “Ibiza” on the island of Pag, Tom Hanks setting “Money Games” on the island of Hvar, while Netflix production “Kiss me First”, decided on capturing Split and Krka National Park.
British television shows and film stars weren’t immune to Croatia’s charms either: BBC 1 hit series “McMafia” with James Norton in the leading role showcased Zagreb, Rovinj, Pag and Split; Jeremy Clarkson’s Grand Tour, Season 2 raced through Zadar and island of Pag; Chris Tarrant paced with Extreme Railway Journeys from Zagreb to Slavonia region and Slavonski Brod, BBC Travel Show followed Sava River from the Croatian capital to Sisak and eastern Croatia, while Ralph Fiennes decided to place “The White Crow” in Rijeka and Istria.
The country has expressed continuing support for the film industry to encourage production companies to film in Croatia – following the huge success of Game of Thrones, which is part-filmed on location in Croatia.
Among the 16.6 million visitors from Europe to Croatia last year were ‘Throners’ – die-hard fans of the cult TV series, keen to see where the epic show was filmed. Such is the success that Game of Thrones-themed guided tours have sprung up in tourist hotspots such as Dubrovnik, which is the setting for King’s Landing and Blackwater Bay.
Elsewhere, Lokrum Island, 600 metres off the mainland, is the setting for the city of Qarth; Sibenik serves as the city of Braavos, while Split doubles as Meereen in the show.
Hollywood has also set its sights on Croatia as a backdrop for several movies.
Such is Croatia’s popularity among film-makers, the destination has usurped Greece as the setting for the second Mamma Mia movie. Filming of Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again – starring Meryl Streep, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan, Julie Walters and Amanda Seyfried – started in autumn 2017 on the Croatian island of Vis, one of the farthest inhabited islands in the country.
Meanwhile, James Bond is making a return visit to Croatia. After Sean Connery’s train ride from Zagreb to Istanbul more than 50 years ago, James Bond’s next top-secret mission has been revealed. Actor Daniel Craig is heading to Croatia next year to film the 25th Bond movie, with a working title of Shatterhand.
Furthermore, Stormtroopers and other aliens from galaxies far away were spotted on the streets of Dubrovnik last year as Lucasfilms worked on Star Wars VIII, The Last Jedi.
Up-coming movie Robin Hood: Origins, staring Jamie Foxx, Jamie Dornan, Taron Egeron and Eve Hewson, began filming in Dubrovnik in February 2017, and took place in Istria as well.
In what has been described as ‘the most ambitious Hollywood project to be produced in Croatia’, the film saw Dubrovnik’s city walls and Posat harbour doubling as Robin Hood’s home territory of Nottinghamshire.
Not surprising, then, that Croatia has attracted a number of A-list stars on holiday recently, including John Malkovich, Julia Roberts and Leonardo DiCaprio.
Ivona Grgan, director of The Croatian National Tourist Office, said: “For decades, discerning holidaymakers have discovered the beauty of Croatia and what it has to offer.
“Now, thanks to a huge surge in demand among the makers of blockbuster movies and unmissable TV dramas, our wonderful country has been projected into the cinemas, TV screens and mobile devices of a whole new audience.
“We’re already seeing demand among fans who want to flock to Croatia to see where their favourite show was filmed. For example, Game of Thrones inspired tours in Dubrovnik, which doubled in the past two years, and now surpass a figure of 60,000 visitors.”
“The Greek islands of Skopelos and Skiathos, where the original Mamma Mia was filmed, saw a 13% increase in visitors and Croatia is looking to achieve a similar increase once Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again is released next summer. Split-Dalmatia County, where island of Vis is located, witnessed a 20 % increase of overnight stays just from the UK visitors since January, in comparison to the same period in 2016. There were 3,485,679 overnight stays from UK visitors in total, while 904,877 of them decided to holiday at Split-Dalmatia County, which makes it the second most popular Croatian region according to UK tourists.
Dubrovnik-Neretva county is still the most visited Croatian region in the UK market, welcoming 1,252,017 overnight stays this year and 28.52% increase until 14th September. Filming of Mamma Mia 2, might propel Split-Dalmatia county into an even more visited destination that could reach Dubrovnik’s potential.”
WTM London, Senior Director, Simon Press said: “It’s great to see Croatia using the TV and film industry to help fuel tourism. The success of the hugely popular epic TV show Game of Thrones, and the fact Hollywood is now regularly using Croatia as a film location, gives the country the opportunity to be seen and experienced by a whole new generation.”
Croatia is an experienced filming destination where Academy Awarded films “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Sophie’s choice” took place, among many others. The tourism value is reflected in the increase of visitors to the Croatian filming sights. Starigrad and the national parks “Paklenica”, “Krka” and “Plitvice Lakes” still attract visitors every June to re-enact the 60’s film “Winnetou”, while Korean reality show and series filmed in 2012, generated 217 % increase in arrivals and 210% in overnight stays from Korean visitors.