Israel lures Hollywood to film in the Holy Land

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In the meantime, most major Hollywood productions have preferred to set up their movies about Jerusalem elsewhere.

Take “World War Z,” the forthcoming multimillion-dollar zombie flick starring Brad Pitt. Part of the plot takes place in Jerusalem, but producers have replicated the city on the island of Malta, which offers hefty cash rebates for foreign film productions. Israeli actors have been flown in for the filming, Levin said.

“Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” opens with Kevin Costner escaping from a prison in Jerusalem _ but the movie was filmed in England and France. Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” was shot in Italy. In Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” about Mossad assassinations of Palestinians who killed Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, a Tel Aviv beach promenade scene was filmed in Malta.

Some films taking place in Jerusalem have even been filmed in Middle Eastern countries that don’t have friendly relations with Israel. The Crusaders who storm Jerusalem in the 2005 action film “Kingdom of Heaven” were filmed in Morocco, which cut off diplomatic ties with Israel in 2000 when a Palestinian uprising erupted.

Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” filmed scenes of Jerusalem in Tunisia, using part of the recreated Jerusalem set built for the Italian miniseries “Jesus of Nazareth.” Tunisia only established diplomatic relations with Israel in 1996, but severed them in 2000.

The opposite is true, too. The 1991 thriller “Not Without My Daughter” starred Sally Fields as an American trapped in Iran, but it was filmed partially in Israel. The opening scene of the 1999 film “The Insider,” when Al Pacino’s character meets the founder of the militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon, was actually filmed in an Arab village in Israel.

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Associated Press writers Aron Heller and Tia Goldenberg contributed to this report.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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