Films shot in Las Vegas are a dime a dozen these days with everything from The Hangover to Oceans 11, 12 & 13 exploiting the familiar lights and sights of Sin City. Sometimes, however, a filmmaker desires a more classy and elegant casino set in a far more historic and romantic city, and that is where Monte Carlo shines.
The small town in Monaco, which could fit easily into New York’s Central Park, has been the location for many of the most popular and award winning films in history. It’s white sun-drenched beaches, yacht filled marinas and palace-like hotels and casino make it a breathtaking backdrop. One of the unique facts about Monaco is the No-Fee Production. If you want to shoot a film there, it is reviewed by a committee and, if deemed to be beneficial to the state, you can shoot for free.
With the decade of “teens” three quarters complete, Monte Carlo has seen a wide variety of films take place on its streets and beaches. 2010 saw Ironman 2, the second in the Marvel comic franchise, some to the streets of Monaco as billionaire playboy Tony Stark slid out of a meet and greet to hop in a Formula 1 and race in the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. Interestingly enough, actor Robert Downey Jr was one of the top five highest paid actors at the time and was known to have spent his free time off the set at the casino and on one of the yachts in the harbor as well; a method actor for sure.
Nicole Kidman starred as Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco, 2014’s French-American biographical drama directed by Oliver Dahan. While the film was shot primarily in Italy and Menton, several memorable scenes were shot outside and around the famous Monte Carlo Casino. The casino’s been a popular location for many films over the years, including James Bond’s Casino Royale. The historic and luxurious venue has the versatility of not only attracting the most exciting tournaments but also the most famous film studios and sequels.
While it can be an extravagant expense to travel to and accommodate an American film operation in Monaco, it comes as no surprise that it is a popular location for French filmmakers as well. 2010’s French romantic comedy L’Arnacoeur (Heartbreaker) starred some of France’s most renowned actors Romain Duris and Vanessa Paradis. The story was about a charismatic young man whose job as a professional heartbreaker is to break up couples, and he is appointed the duty of preventing the marriage or the lovely and rich Ms. Paradis to a British millionaire. The film was primarily shot on location around the principality, and some memorable scenes were filmed in the Casino Gardens.
In 2011, we got another laugh when Monte Carlo was released, a film directed by Thomas Bezucha. Selena Gomez, Leighton Meester and Katie Cassidy star as three friends posing as wealthy socialites. It’s cheesy and still a classic and a definite chick flick for the decade. Each girl masterfully shares her own drama as they travel from Paris to Monte Carlo. It’s a great example of how wealth changes everything.
As productions shooting in Monaco continue to have carte blanche with regards to taxes, times and location shoots, we will likely continue to see this lovely and opulent little city in many films for years to come.