The blame game is well under way in Greece as reports have emerged from the tiny Croatian island of Vis that it will host the filming of the sequel of the popular film Mamma Mia— instead of Greece, where the original film was shot.
First, what we know:
Numerous Croatian publications have published reports of location scouting and production crews already descending upon the vacation island of Vis on Croatia’s famed Dalmatian Coast, in preparation for a Fall 2017 shoot.
The Greek edition of CNN published a story that included an official statement by the regional governor of Thessaly, the region where the original film was shot, blasting the Greek Ministry of Tourism for losing the production to the Croatian island.
In his letter he wrote that his region stands to lose not only millions of euro in hard money, spent by the production, but tourism, the likes of which his region experienced after the original film was released.
Universal, the film’s production company, has not confirmed or denied that the film will be shot in Croatia and the location of the film shoot has not been updated in the film’s IMDB page, the central information clearing house of film productions.
But Greek media has been loud about the “loss” of the Mamma Mia sequel.
Akis Kapranos write in a piece entitled “Why we lost Mamma Mia 2” in Ta Nea that the film’s producers opted for Croatia to avoid the lack of infrastructure in Greece for foreign filmmakers, nit to mention that red tape that is involved and lack of tax credits to foreign productions, that other countries in the region use to woo US and foreign productions.
Kapranos used as an example, various films that should have been shot in Greece but producers opted for other locations, including the most recent Jason Bourne film that shot a Greek street protest scene in the Canary Islands and Hercules, which Paramount shot in Hungary after failed attempts to crack through the Greek bureaucracy.
The original Mamma Mia film was shot on location on the Greek Island of Skopelos with secondary filming in the Pelion region, nearby. The region saw a jump in tourism after the film was released.
The finger pointing targeted the Greek Ministry of Tourism, which was quick to pass the buck to the Ministry of Culture, stating that the Tourism Ministry isn’t responsible for film production in the country.
For its defense, the Ministry of Culture said that it had never been approached by the producers of Mamma Mia.
But regardless of whether or not the relevant ministries were or were not approached, the reality of the fact is that Greece’s scenery may be a perfect location for many films to shoot— but the reality on the ground is quite different.
The country has no tax incentives in place to lure film productions, similar to those in Malta, Croatia, Hungary and other countries in the region and promises for such legislation to make Greece a more film-friendly country have been stalled for decades.
Costas Labropoulos, who serviced “The Bourne Identity” (which did shoot in Greece) and was in talks to bring the latest Bourne shoot in Athens told Variety in an interview that such promises are nothing new. “We’ve been hearing this for over 15 years.”
Complicated labor laws and insurance policies add to the frustration for crews looking to shoot in Greece, with no film office in place to help cut through the bureaucratic mess.
Over the years, Greek producers have appealed to the successive Greek governments to make the country more attractive to foreign film crews but, Labropoulos said, “They don’t seem interested in resolution, and they don’t seem interested in cinema.”
And history has proven this statement right.
In addition to the latest Bourne film, numerous projects were planned to shoot in Greece but ultimately went elsewhere, including Oliver Stone’s Alexander, which has a famous story attached to it.
Stone, one of the most important directors in Hollywood, reportedly waited outside a Greek government minister’s office for 45 minutes to see him to discuss the $155 million production and ultimately left, tired of waiting.
Troy was also intended to be shot in Greece but went elsewhere and now, rumors are circulating that Warner Brothers’ epic production of the Odyssey isn’t even considering Greece, but probably Malta, which welcomes film production with open arms and lucrative tax benefits and other perks.