Lights, Camera, Souvlaki! Hollywood Sets Up in Greece

Lights, Camera, Souvlaki! Hollywood Is Setting Up Shop in Greece

Hollywood is coming to Greece, as major studios are increasingly setting films amid its famous natural scenery while pocketing cash rebates for bringing projects like “GO,” the sequel to Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out,” to the country.

Greece has green-lighted a total of 140 planned films from across the world since 2018, an investment worth some 170 million euros ($200 million), according to EKOME, the National Center of Audiovisual Media and Communication.

Among the notable projects: noir thriller “The Enforcer” starring Antonio Banderas, where the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki will serve as the backdrop for many of the scenes set in Miami.

The movie’s producer Millennium Media purchased a site in Thessaloniki to build what will be Greece’s first Hollywood-owned studio when it’s completed next year, and parts of “The Enforcer” will be filmed on the location.

Lights, Camera, Souvlaki! Hollywood Sets Up in Greece

“Greece is very attractive as a location and offers diverse landscapes that haven’t been overly exposed to filming,” Millennium President Jeffrey Greenstein said in an interview. “Adding the tax rebate on top of that makes Greece even more attractive.”

Under the rebate program, expenses incurred in Greece can be refunded at 40% of their value. The plan can also serve as a guarantee, allowing producers to use it as collateral when seeking funding through the Greek banking system. Greece is adding additional tax relief of 30% for eligible expenses.

Movie TitleProductionStarring
GONetflixDaniel Craig, Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Edward Norton, Janelle Monáe
The EnforcerMillenniumAntonio Banderas, Kate Bosworth
Crimes of the FutureCrimes ProductionViggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux, Kristen Stewart
BeckettNetflixJohn David Washington, Boyd Holbrook, Vicky Krieps, Alicia Vikander

Financing for the rebates is guaranteed through the Greek Public Investment Program and so far amounts to 75 million euros available for 2018 to 2022. Film makers are enthusiastic, but would like to see the program expanded and extended.

“We have at least three films that are perfect to shoot in Greece and ready to go,” Greenstein said. “Before we can give them the green light to shoot in Greece, we need government support for the rebate or a private banking institution to step up and lend against it.”

Lights, Camera, Souvlaki! Hollywood Sets Up in Greece

The government calculates that more than 35,000 jobs will be created by the new productions, a significant boost for a country with one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe, at more than 15%. Backers of the program also cite knock-on effects for restaurants, hotels and the construction industry.

The plan covers entertainment projects other than films, as Greece is extending the incentives to television and video game producers. Ubisoft Entertainment’s Assassins Creed Odyssey, a game released in 2018, used a digital depiction of ancient Greece and was shot entirely in the country.

The Israeli spy adventure series “Tehran” was also shot almost entirely in Greece, while NBC Universal’s hit comedy “The Good Place” was partly shot in the country.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.