Pfft, Malta? Exactly how many Hollywood film locations in Malta are there, about two?!
It’s the underdogs like Malta that I personally think make the best film locations. No one is ever expecting Brad Pitt to be making a film (let alone two) on an island country like Malta. And even though Rome is a great city to make a film about, it ain’t lookin’ like it used to back in Caesar’s day.
Malta offers more cliffs, beaches, harbours, forts and dated stone buildings than you can shake a camera at. It also offers a fully functioning studio at the Mediterranean Film Studio. Suddenly, Malta isn’t looking so silly as a film location after all…
And several Hollywood productions agreed. Here are some of the more notable Hollywood film locations in Malta…
Hollywood Film Locations in Malta
Popeye (1980) dir. Robert Altman
Where: Popeye Village, Triq Tal-Prajjet, Mellieha
Let’s start off this list of Hollywood film locations in Malta with the weirdest and most wonderful. The 80s film Popeye constructed a huge shanty town on the side of a cliff in northwest Malta. And guess what? It’s still there! You can now visit the Popeye Village on your trip and pretend to live in a comic strip for an afternoon.
Gladiator (2000) dir. Ridley Scott
This won’t be the last time you’ll read the words ‘Fort Ricasoli’ on this list. Gladiator‘s infamous shoot in Malta will be forever paired with it being the place where Oliver Reed died. The alcoholic actor, whilst on location for the film, fell off the wagon spectacularly in a local pub before his fatal heart attack. The film shot in one of the country’s many, many forts.
Fort Ricasoli also appears as a film location on my Game of Thrones Film Locations in Malta blog post.
Troy (2004) dir. David Benioff
Where: Blue Lagoon, Bejn il-Kmiemen, Comino
Troy is the next sword and sandals Hollywood film location in Malta on this list. It’s obvious why: Malta boasts almost exclusively old, stone buildings and approx. 3467 forts. Just kidding, but seriously, there are a LOT of forts in this country.
This film used the beautiful Blue Lagoon as a film location, Fort Ricasoli like it’s spiritual brother Gladiator and was also based at the Mediterranean Film Studies in Kalkara.
Munich (2005) dir. Steven Speilberg
Where: Pretty much everywhere!
Apart from Hungary and a little stint in New York, Munich was a substitution for just about every other country in this film. The Sliema waterfront is a doppelganger for a Tel Aviv promenade and the Olympic Hotel is actually in Buggiba. The Republic Square in Valletta is used for a Rome cafe. And, a hotel in Athens is also actually in Malta’s capital city of Valletta.
Finally, the Outdoor Cafeteria in Rome is actually in the small Maltese town of Rabat. You can’t say Mr Speilberg isn’t inventive and resourceful with his film locations.
Captain Phillips (2013) dir. Paul Greengrass
Where: The Grand Harbour in Senglea and the Freeport Terminals in Birżebbuġa and Marsaxlokk
No surprise, two of Malta’s biggest harbours where utilised for a film about a cargo ship. Valletta is quite a popular place for cruise ships to dock, not to mention it’s a tiny country that’s surrounded by open ocean. Two ports were used early in the film as ship harbours and I can’t imagine a better country more suited.
World War Z (2013) dir. Marc Forster
Where: Fort St. Elmo, Valletta
So, it’s very bizarre, but for some reason not one… but at least two films have used Fort St. Elmo on Malta’s capital city, Valletta, as a stand-in for a Jerusalem harbour.
As well as World War Z, the recent Murder on the Orient Express (2017) film has also used the fort as a stand-in for Jerusalem.
Fort St. Elmo is the fort on the very tippy top of Valletta. It’s now actually used as the base for the National War Museum of Malta.
By The Sea (2015) dir. Angelina Jolie
Where: Ta’ Frenc Restaurant, Ghajn Damma Street, Xaghra, Gozo AND so many other places
By The Sea filmed pretty much exclusively in Gozo, which is amazing! They filmed on the Northernmost island of Malta, particularly Mgarr ix-Xini. The interior of the rather swanky Ta’ Frenc Restaurant also featured in the film.
Assassin’s Creed (2016) dir. Justin Kurzel
Where: So many forts: Fort Delimara in Marsaxlokk, Fort Ricasoli in Kalkara and Fort Manoel on Manoel Island.
If you particularly love forts… Like, you just love a good fort and that’s all you want in a film (you don’t care about narrative, characterisation, etc.) Assassin’s Creed is the film for you. The movie used three forts as film locations and our good friend, Fort Ricasoli, is, of course, one of them.
The other two are Fort Delimara which was a used for its underground tunnels and Fort Manoel which was a film location for the Spanish Inquisition trial. The latter fort is also used in season one of Game of Thrones as the Sept of Baelor.
13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi (2016) dir. Michael Bay
Where: Attard, Mosta, Ta’ Qali and the National Hockey Centre in Paola
Love it or hate it, 13 Hours may have performed poorly at the box office but it looked good while doing so. The film was shot in both Malta and Morocco as a stand-in for, well, Benghazi, Lybia.
Attard and Mosta are towns in Malta that were used as film locations as well as, bizarrely enough, the National Hockey Centre in Paola. It does take all sorts, amiright?
And those are some of the big Hollywood film locations in Malta! Have you watched any of the films or visited the film locations? Let me know in the comments below!