|Subsidiary of Moravia Steel|
Several of the movies filmed there won Oscars. The studios are now often called the "European Hollywood" or "Hollywood of the East" because of the increasing interest of western productions (such as the movies Mission Impossible, The Bourne Identity, Casino Royale, Prince Caspian, and many others). Roman Polanski claims Barrandov is the world's best studio.
Czech film history is closely connected with that of Prague's entrepreneurial Havel family, and especially with the activities of the brothers Milo? Havel (1899-1968) and Václav Maria Havel (1897-1979) (Václav was the father of the Czech President of the same name).
In 1921 Milo? Havel created the A-B Joint Stock Company by merging his American Film distribution company with the Biografia film distributors.
At the beginning of the 1930s his brother Václav planned to build a luxurious residential complex on a hill five kilometers outside Prague. Milo? Havel had suggested that he include a modern film studio in the development. The area was to be called Barrandov after Joachim Barrande, the French geologist who had worked at the fossil-rich site in the 19th century. Still the Barrandov Rock has the plaque with Barrande's name.
Construction of the studio, based on designs by Max Urban, began on 28 November 1931 and was completed in 1933. Fourteen months later, Barrandov's first Czech film, 'Murder on Ostrovni Street', was shot there. The volume of films shot at the studio increased rapidly. Barrandov had three hundred permanent employees, was making up to eighty films a year and had begun to attract foreign producers. It was the best-equipped studio in Central Europe and in the early years foreign production companies such as UFA, MGM and Paramount developed their own distribution systems in Czechoslovakia because of it.
During the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany during World War II (1940-1945) major additions were made to the studio's facilities. Seeking to make Barrandov an equal to the major film studios in Berlin and Munich, the Nazis drew up plans for three large interconnecting stages. Construction work started in 1941 but the final stage was not completed until early 1945. These three huge stages (with more than 37,000 square feet (3,400 m2) of shooting space) still form the main attraction of the studios to film-makers throughout the world.
Shortly after the war, Barrandov and its smaller sister Hostivar Studios facility were nationalized and remained under state ownership until the beginning of the 1990s. During this time, Barrandov's impressive film laboratories were constructed, as was a special effects stage with a back projection tunnel and a water tank equipped for under-water shooting.
The Prague Spring of the mid-1960s was accompanied by a New Wave of Czech feature films which attracted worldwide attention. Czech film directors working at Barrandov at this time included Milo? Forman, Ji?í Menzel, Vojt?ch Jasný, Pavel Jurá?ek, V?ra Chytilová, Jan N?mec, Ivan Passer, Elmar Klos or Ján Kadár. Closely Watched Trains (Menzel) and The Shop on Main Street (Klos and Kadár) each won the American Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and Forman's The Firemen's Ball and Loves of a Blonde achieved Oscar nominations.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s Barrandov continued to produce high quality feature films, particularly comedies and Czech fairy tales, turning out an average of seventy pictures a year. In the 1980s foreign film-makers started to return to Prague in order to avail themselves of the Studio's quality facilities and the country's variety of film locations. Major productions included Barbra Streisand's Yentl and Milo? Forman's US production of Amadeus (winner of several American Academy Awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture).
Shortly after the Velvet Revolution (1989) Barrandov was privatized and the state no longer provided total funding for Czech film production. Due to the primacy under capitalism of profitability over culture, the studio almost closed down in 2000. However, later, the decrease in local films was "compensated" by a dramatic increase in foreign productions, particularly feature films made by U.S. producers. Czech television stations and producers of commercials for television also made extensive use of the facility. Barrandov Studios now provide complete production services for visiting feature film producers and for the increasing volume of local audio-visual production.
On December 2006 Barrandov Studios have officially opened "Max", a massive new soundstage aimed at attracting bigger productions than ever. According to studio representatives, in terms of size the new facility is now the largest in Europe at 4,000 square metres.
Barrandov is owned by Moravia Steel, which is owned by a group of Slovak entrepreneurs.