Lights, action, cameras on Dubrovnik
The very first time you lay your eyes on the historic Old City of Dubrovnik you may have the impression that you are gazing onto a film set. The impressive city walls that proudly and endlessly encircle the core of Dubrovnik look purpose built for a Hollywood adaption of a Tolkien novel. Rows of terracotta roofs glinting in the sunlight seem the perfect backdrop to a Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn romance. And Johnny Depp on a pirate ship wouldn’t seem out of place sailing across the turquoise blue of the Adriatic Sea. Location, location, location…Dubrovnik is the ideal film location.
When the popular HBO series Game of Thrones rolled into town in 2011 Dubrovnik was suddenly under not only their cameras but the cameras of half the world. One of the most popular serials of all time, with an estimated audience of 15 million per episode in the US alone, the Game of Thrones certainly put Dubrovnik back on the map for filmmakers.
Yes, back on the map, for Dubrovnik has a long and rich love affair with Hollywood’s finest. The 1960’s were a golden era for the city with A listed celebrities such as Sophia Loren, Yul Brynner and one of the most celebrated couples of all time Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton all spending time in the jewel of the Adriatic. A number of hit movies were also filmed in the city through the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, including rather unusually a few World War II classics, such as the 1964 classic The Secret Invasion starring Stewart Granger and Mickey Rooney.
After a lean period through the nineties Dubrovnik was rediscovered in 2005 when jealous husbands chased David Tennant through the cobbled streets in the BBC mini-series Casanova. And the BBC have been back many times since, Three men in a boat, Michael Palin’s New Europe and Escape to the Continent, to mention but a few.
However none of these productions have shined the light of Hollywood on Dubrovnik as brightly as the Game of Thrones. As the producers were quick to mention “there is something about this place that is so perfect, we are all very grateful to be here.” There is no doubt that the globally popular series has opened Dubrovnik to a whole new generation of eyes. Tourism and film production go hand in hand, and as the runaway train that is Game of Thrones gathered pace the interest in the city as a destination blossomed. Fans of the show travelled thousands of miles just to be able to experience the sets and locations that they wondered at on the small screen.
Not only has the Game of Thrones saga opened a new tourism door for Dubrovnik it has also helped to remind filmmakers of the city they once loved and flocked to. The 16th century drama Borgia filmed the third and final season of the series in Dubrovnik this winter, creating yet more publicity amongst the lovers of the silver screen.
In recent years Dubrovnik has become a magnet for the Hollywood darlings, Tom Cruise, Richard Gere, Owen Wilson, Kevin Spacey, Woody Harrelson, Mickey Rourke, Michael Douglas, Catharine Zeta Jones, Nick Nolte, John Malkovich, Sir Roger Moore…the list goes on and on….have all spent their holidays in the city. How long before we see one of these stars gracing the screen in a film based in the magnificent ancient city, sooner rather than later. That’s a wrap!