If you have been at all on social media or near a TV screen lately you couldn’t have missed all the promotion for the new TNT series based on Caleb Carr’s best-selling historical thriller The Alienist. Because it is a historical thriller, much is being made of the recreation of 19th century New York City, the setting against which the tale is told. But we are here to tell you that in reality, much of The Alienist was shot in Budapest. And not just on sound stages, where old world New York (including a portion of the Williamsburg Bridge) could be recreated by expert set builders, but actually on the streets of Budapest.
Well, we are here to tell you it’s true. The story, which revolves around a New York crime reporter who teams up with a Central European-sounding psychologist (with the very Hungarian name of ‘László’) to track down a serial killer. Much of the expensive production (estimated at 5 million dollars per episode) was shot at Origo Studios in Rákospalota, while scenes featured prominently in the series' publicity were shot on locations in central Budapest, like Lónyay Street, which, as you can see from the photo, somehow manages to look at once very turn-of-the-century, Gilded Age Manhattan, while remaining identifiably Budapestian. W Magazine said that Budapest was the ‘best match’ for this era in New York. In the same article they detail Alienist star Dakota Fanning’s off-set adventures at the Sziget Festival, which is routinely names the best large music festival in Europe.
We are wondering if Budapest has a mole planted at Daily Variety, who keeps promoting the city for its versatility and affordability (rightfully so, we should add): “The production in Budapest was enormous. It required great skill and effort from everyone involved,” they quoted one of the producers as saying. Moreover, the production “came in on budget, which was nothing short of a miracle.” Newsday attributed the “amazing sets” constructed at Origo Studios as a reason Budapest was able to stand in for New York, and in the same article, star Daniel Brühl “wondered how they would create 1890 New York in Budapest, but there is so much grand architecture there that could re-create the era.”
The Alienist joined Red Sparrow, Robin Hood: Origins, horror flick The Terror, and the thriller Exchanged as one of the major productions filmed in Budapest in 2017. The Alienist is getting mostly positive reviews, but Budapest, as always, is coming away a star.
Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.