‘Robin Hood: Origins’ Holds Press Conference in Dubrovnik (Report and VIDEO)

Total Croatia News

The Prince of Thieves in Dubrovnik about to start with filming. A press conference for the Dubrovnik-based filming of ‘Robin Hood: Origins’ was held at Hotel Argentina on February 19, 2017, at Hotel Argentina. TCN was there. 

For months now, Dubrovnik was transforming itself into Nottingham. As always, it could have only been assumed which scenes would take place at the spots where props were rising. Since it was already the lower-season time of the year, there were not too many tourists wandering around the set. In the past three weeks, props were emerging at the central street of the Old Town – Stradun. Some of the locals were displeased, but the majority liked the fact that big Hollywood production chose Dubrovnik for their blockbuster. The news came out already last year and we were waiting impatiently for the entire production team to finally arrive, even more because of rumors that Leonardo DiCaprio will tag along. Even today, the director himself, Otto Bathurst, did not confirm or deny if Leo will grant us with his presence, since he’s one of the producers. Mr. Otto just responded – Leonardo is a busy man. Experience tells us that even the busiest of them all find time in their cramped schedules to engage in activities that they find interesting – if you ask us, we’d be on the lookout at Dubrovnik Airport for DiCaprio, perhaps he’s arriving as this article is being typed.

Today the official press conference was held where the director Otto Bathurst, line producer E. Bennet Walsh, Minister of Culture Nina Obuljen, Minister of Tourism Gari Cappelli and Head of The Board of Directors of Mayor’s Office Igor Deranja all spoke of different aspects and the significance of this filming for Dubrovnik, Croatian tourism, and so on. For a local, the most pleasing part of the conference was when Otto Bathurst said that he was looking into many possible filming sites all over Europe, especially in England (obviously, Nottingham is in England, duh), but he was struck in awe when he first laid his eyes on Dubrovnik and he knew that was the place where he wanted to film.
Mr. Walsh opened the conference by saying that there were two reasons why Robin Hood is in Dubrovnik: openness of the city and Dubrovnik’s cooperation with the entire production where Otto’s vision was able to come to life and the Croatian cash incentive where he specifically thanked the two ministers at the table – Mrs. Obuljen and Mr. Cappelli.

Then Mr. Otto said that he got involved in this film couple of years ago. He admits there were a lot of Robin Hood movies, but he wanted to make something genuine, unique, exciting… He was all over England [looking for the ideal set] for 3-4 months, trying to find something that gave him the vision and scale that he wanted and he was unable to find it. Then he went on road for another 2-3 months around Central Europe. In his journey, he stumbled across Dubrovnik and as he was driving down the road from the airport towards the old town, he had the crazy excitement-feeling. He was aware that the location is stunning, but because of his past experience, he was expecting to hear a lot of “Nos” in sense of using the locations, filming restrictions, etc. He specifically thanked the city of Dubrovnik for how they’ve been accommodating to them and his vision and ambition actually expanded because of Dubrovnik. He’s a fan of visual effects and he expected to use a lot of them because of possible filming restrictions, but he did not have to over-use them and it delighted him because he personally thinks that too much of computer editing takes away that special something in the film. City of Nottingham is the center of the story and the story is about the scale of the 1% Robin Hood is trying to overcome.

Then Minister Nina Obuljen took the word, she gave her special thanks to everybody at the table and to Pakt Media, the Croatian filming partners. She hopes that the filming will proceed in order, that the weather will be in their favor. She specially focused on the financial aspects, the cash incentives that were mentioned by Mr. Walsh. Namely, Croatia introduced the filming cash incentives in 2011. Estimate is there are 40 films made with the ones currently being filmed. According to the Law of Audiovisual Activities, the investors get a 20% return for the expenses made at the filming site and the expenses made by the local partners. Thanks to this incentive, over 400 million kunas were invested into Croatia. Minister convinces us that it’s not common in Europe to have a system of cash incentives and that we are almost unique here, other European countries did not find that possibility interesting. Return of investment in total was 60 million kunas. She also said that no incentives could replace the local partners and the filming professionals in Croatia. The government will soon come out with a proposal of making the incentive system more secure in sense of guaranteeing the cash for the investors. She briefly mentioned the possibility of making a filming studio in Croatia, she did not mention the location, but she did say if and when it would come to life, it would be a form of joint public-private investment. She also assured us that the highest standards were followed in Dubrovnik in terms of protection of the historical heritage and there were restorers and the conservers on site. The beauty lies in the fact that the props come and go, but the heritage will remain safe and unharmed. We are all looking forward to the film that is going to be released on March 23, 2018 when we’ll see Dubrovnik and Croatia and Nottingham.

Mr. Gari Cappelli took the word, he noticed that there were about 20% more guests in the city more than last year at this time, which is the proof there is no more high or low season, but the all year-round tourism in Croatia, especially in Dubrovnik. This will be an additional enticement to tourist coming to Dubrovnik, for example, numbers of American guests tripled in the last 7-8 years, most likely because of certain filmings in Dubrovnik. As a part of cultural tourism, the filming tourism is the year-round event and it can significantly affect the prolongation of the season. In 2015, there were 55.000 of overnight stays of the filming staff. For example, because of the Korean filming in 2012, that guest segment rose for 400%. He claims that they recognized the potential and together, the both ministries of culture and tourism will find a way on how to induce that segment even more and promote the filming tourism. Economic segment is very important as well, but it has the highest impact on the local activity which is very important. This particular filming will bring to Dubrovnik more than 10.000 overnight stays which was not expected in this time of the year. Last year they had 34 filming productions and Croatia is put to the top 15% of the international interest for filming here. Thank you for choosing this location and Croatia and as it is heard, about 100 million dollars were predicted for Robin Hood’s marketing. Croatia will measure great effects from it, and as he said, Croatia does not have a tourist season, it has a tourist year.

Minister handed out T-shirts

Mr. Deranja said a few words about how delighted he was with the number of journalists that came to this conference, but also the presence of the both ministers adds a special value and importance to the entire story. He spent some time with Lionsgate and Pakt Media and he commended them for their efforts, he recognized the complexness of their jobs. He gave also a special thanks to the former mayor Andro Vlahusic, who was in the audience, he said that he knows how much of struggle he devoted to Robin Hood and also he mentioned Maroje Zanetic who was the spirit of the project and the communicator between the city’s and filming’s administration and without those people none of this would most likely come to life. He said that in the following two weeks he hopes the journalists will have a lot of material to write about. He especially commended Bathurst and Walsh and told them what an honor it was to be sitting at the same table with them and offered them all the assistance possible.

Afterwards, we were taken on a tour of the set by Mr. Walsh and he explained to us where Robin is going to enter to Nottingham – it’s going to be in the Old City port, where the props where set at the beginning.

Conclusion? This is definitely going to be the biggest Croatian project ever and we’re so proud Dubrovnik is chosen to be Nottingham. Both Bathurst and Walsh were cheerful and open to our questions and we wish them a lot of fun during the time of filming. But let them be warned: there’s a big chance they’ll fall in love with Dubrovnik in ways they never expected!


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