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Hollywood heads to Germany

After a lacklustre year in 2012, Germany is now overwhelmed with Hollywood stars working on films shooting here from George Clooney and Bill Murray to Emma Watson and Michael Douglas.

Bill Condon’s WikiLeaks film The Fifth Estate for Dreamworks, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Daniel Bruehl, was shooting in Berlin for a week at the end of January.

The film’s German line producer Mathias Schwerbrock, co-producer of Shah Rukh Khan’s Don 2 two years ago, told Screen that he will be preparing Marjane Satrapi’s first US-backed feature The Voices from March for shooting with Ryan Reynolds from April at the Babelsberg Studios.

Wes Anderson has assembled a galaxy of stars for his new film The Grand Budapest Hotel, ranging from Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes and Bill Murray through Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan and Jude Law to Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum.

Most of the film is shooting in Saxony, including the town of Goerlitz, 280km SE of Berlin, which previously hosted such productions as The Reader and Around The World In 80 Days.

Geoffrey Rush, Emily Watson and Heike Makatsch are to star in adaptation of Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief to be directed by Downton Abbey’s Brian Percival and produced by Redmond Morris (The Reader) will be shooting from mid-February at Studio Babelsberg and in Goerlitz, Berlin and Brandenburg

The presence of George Clooney in the German capital as he prepares his next directorial effort The Monuments Men has kept gossip columnists and paparazzi on their toes.

Some 3,500 men queued in temperatures of minus 13 degrees at the Babelsberg Studios for a casting call at the end of January.

Apparently, Clooney needs between 5,000 and 8,000 male extras for the Second World War drama which is set to star Bill Murray, Daniel Craig, Cate Blanchett, Jean Dujardin and Matt Damon when shooting begins in March.

Michael Douglas and Christoph Waltz are set to be in town at the same time for Mike Newell’s Reykjavik set against the backdrop of the 1986 summit between Gorbachev and Reagan.

Further Hollywood royalty are likely to be taking up residence in the Berlin-Brandenburg region when writer-producer J. Michael Straczynski makes his directorial debut at the Babelsberg Studios this autumn with The Flickering Light about the making of Leni Riefenstahl’s controversial film Tiefland in 1942.

John Woo is one of the latest of the leading international directors to come under Berlin’s spell. In a recent interview with Die Welt, he indicated that his planned remake of Jean Pierre Melville’s Le Samourai would be shot in Berlin and Babelsberg.

Woo said he would have loved to make the film in German, but was resigned to the fact that it would be shot in English.

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