Hollywood in the Netherlands

Hollywood in the Netherlands

With its iconic canals and canal houses, windmills and fields of tulips, Dutch scenery can make for a pretty picture. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Hollywood has stopped by a couple of times over the years. Here are some Hollywood blockbusters that have been (partially) filmed in the Netherlands:

Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003)

Whilst most foreign film production companies choose to film in Amsterdam, Girl with a Pearl Earring (2003), featuring Scarlett Johansson and Colin Firth, was also shot on location in Delft. Which makes sense, since the film is about the famous Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer, who was born and raised in Delft, and his masterpiece “Girl with a Pearl Earring”.

Scenes were shot at the following locations:

  • The Market Place and Town Hall (Delft)
  • Old Meat Hall (Delft)
  • Royal Palace at Dam Square (Amsterdam)

Ocean’s Twelve (2004)

In Ocean’s Twelve (2004), the sequel to popular heist movie Ocean’s Eleven (2001), the crew plans three major heists in Europe, including one in this country’s capital, Amsterdam. Yeah, that’s right. At one point in time, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon were all hanging out in Amsterdam! And this editor missed it ☹.

Scenes were shot at the following locations:

  • Pulitzer Hotel on the Prinsengracht
  • Koningsplein
  • Dampkring Coffeeshop on the Handboogstraat
  • Kalverstraat
  • Heiligeweg
  • Haarlem Central Station

The Fault in Our Stars (2014)

Based on the best-selling novel by John Green, The Fault in Our Stars (2014) is about two teenage cancer patients who travel to Amsterdam to visit a reclusive author. It is perhaps the most popular film to date to have been (partially) shot in the city.

Scenes were shot at the following locations:

  • The bench in front of Leidsegracht 4
  • The Sandton Hotel De Filosoof
  • Rijksmuseum
  • The Anne Frank House

Now, if you were thinking about stealing the bench in front of Leidsegracht 4, where the couple professed their love for each other, you would be too late! The original was stolen shortly after the film’s release. However, it has been replaced and is now covered in fan graffiti.

Dunkirk (2017)

Christopher Nolan’s epic World War II film was, as the title suggests, shot in Dunkirk, France. However, scenes were also filmed in the small Dutch town of Urk. In fact, the film crew spent over four weeks on location there, filming on the IJsselmeer. Getting a glimpse of the set was not made easy by Nolan; high black screens were placed at the docks to block the view.

However, that didn’t stop pushy One Direction fans from trying to sneak on set to see their Idol, Harry Styles, who has a small part in the film. Things got so crazy, Styles was forced to get a full-time bodyguard for safety reasons. Yikes.

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017)

Speaking of bodyguards, The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017), starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, used Amsterdam as one of its major filming locations. The production filmed in Amsterdam for over three weeks in early 2016.

Not everyone was happy about this. Traffic had to be diverted and streets had to be closed off. Not an easy feat in our busy capital. However, the municipality of Amsterdam likes to be the décor in international productions. When a production is filmed in Amsterdam, it creates job opportunities for locals, and it also means lots of money will be spent in the city.

Scenes were shot at the following locations:

  • Rijksmuseum
  • Nieuwe Achtergracht
  • Lijnbaansgracht
  • Plantage Kerklaan

Interesting titbit: Before filming started, the canals had to be cleared for the stuntmen, since there were hundreds of bikes scattered along the bottom.

A film that should have been shot in the Netherlands?

Amazingly, Tulip Fever (2017), a film about the tulip mania of 17th century Amsterdam, starring Alicia Vikander and Dane DeHaan, was never actually shot in Amsterdam. Or in any part of the Netherlands for that matter! No, this film was mostly shot across the UK, in locations such as Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Suffolk, Essex, Kent and Norfolk.

The Netherlands Film Production Incentive

To promote film production in the Netherlands, and to attract big Hollywood productions to the country, the Netherlands Film Production Incentive was introduced in 2014. To qualify for a 35 percent cash rebate, feature films must incur at least 75 percent of their production costs within the Netherlands, and they are required to spend 100.000 euros on local production costs as well.

Since its introduction, the incentive has contributed to over 200 projects, including 98 film productions from abroad. Thanks to the programme, Dunkirk received a sum of 1,2 million USD, and the Hitman’s Bodyguard took home 960.000 USD.

Manja van Kesteren


Manja van Kesteren

Managing Editor at IamExpat Media. Manja studied English and Creative & Professional Writing at the University of Wolverhampton in the UK. She has been working as a content editor and...

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