Why dinosaurs and Hollywood are invading Malta

When dinosaurs invaded Malta
When dinosaurs invaded Malta | © Marc Zammit Cordina

Editorial Manager

Jurassic World Dominion (2022) joins an illustrious list of films that have been shot in Malta, one of the hottest new destinations for blockbuster productions. With incredible cities, wild natural locations and vast studio spaces, here’s why you’ll want to watch the latest installment in the franchise while planning your next trip to the Mediterranean island paradise.

As someone who has visited Malta before, a return trip was always on the cards, but it was surprising that the reunion took place in a crowded cinema in London earlier this year. Whilst watching Jurassic World Dominion you’ll instantly recognise the famous stone walls and cobbled streets of Valletta if you’ve previously travelled here, and if you haven’t you’ll be fascinated to find out more about this European destination. With a little digging, you’ll find out that a rapidly growing number of movie productions are heading to this idyllic corner of the world thanks to its rare beauty and excellent facilities.

Valletta, Malta – Aerial skyline view of Valletta with Saluting Battery and Upper Barrakka Gardens at sunrise

Malta’s growing film industry

‘Jurassic World Dominion was actually a really big step for us as it is the first time Malta features as itself in such a big production,’ explains Johann Grech, of the Malta Film Commission. We’re sitting overlooking Valletta and it’s easy to see why this is a popular location for film and TV productions already. Gladiator, Game of Thrones, Troy and Assassin’s Creed have all previously used the backdrop for period epics although that’s not to say the city (and country itself) are wallowing in the past. You’ll find a dynamic, modern destination when you arrive in Malta, one that is proud of its rich heritage but also focussed on developing all aspects of its infrastructure for the future.

This dynamic attitude is best illustrated when looking at the film industry here. In 1981 Robin Williams donned a sailors hat, ate his spinach and portrayed Popeye in a film that might not be remembered by many now, but is still a talking point here. The filmmakers left the set behind and now it’s a fully-functioning attraction that pulls in the crowds and has created a lasting legacy.

On the other side of the island is a large space dedicated to making films and TV shows. Ridley Scott has just wrapped his upcoming Napoleon biopic having first brought Russell Crowe here for Gladiator. As we were being shown around, it was announced that Malta’s first ever sound stage – a 4000 square metre studio encompassing a giant water tank – will be built here in the coming years.

‘For almost 60 years we’ve been hearing about sound-stages being built here in Malta. Today we are writing our history,’ Grech says. ‘We are experiencing a record number of local people working in the industry as well as an unprecedented level of investment from both the government and private sectors.’ he adds enthusiastically.

When dinosaurs came to town

So, what of the latest – and biggest – production to come to Malta? Jurassic World Dominion brings together the cast of the most recent films in the franchise with the original stars. For fans of the dino-based series this is a dream come true, and for fans of film tourism, a travel trend that continues to boom in popularity, we now have another dream destination to visit too.

Several locations around the city have been used for external shots featured in the final film. There is a spectacular motorbike sequence which pauses for a breathtaking shot in St George Square in the heart of Valletta before continuing through the narrow streets of the capital. At the same time in the movie, Bryce Dallas Howard is being pursued by velociraptors across the rooftops which gives us a chance to take in fuller views of the surroundings. You can find these spots around the walled city and it’s easy to see why filmmakers are heading here for more productions.

An Atrociraptor and Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) in Jurassic World Dominion, co-written and directed by Colin Trevorrow.

The film also includes a sequence shot in an underground market where all manner of illicit goods are being traded. Again, Malta is a perfect setting for this, and we get to see some of the North African heritage in play that is a feature of the history of the island.

If you are visiting as a tourist you will also want to go to the smaller islands like Comino and Gozo. A handful of films have been shot here, but the main reason for going is the sandy beaches and azure waters perfect for a relaxing day in the sun. Day trips and regular ferry services make this an easy option if you have a few days to spare.

Pick up a copy of the film when it is released on home entertainment to see extended footage bringing more iconic locations to life. There are also a selection of behind-the-scenes sequences that will let you see how the production came to Malta and the technicalities of filming here.


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