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Mamma Mia sequel heads to Croatia

Tourism officials in Greece are astounded at claims that the sequel to the popular movie Mamma Mia is to be filmed not in Greece but Croatia.

Rumours have surfaced that the tiny island of Vis, on Croatia's Dalmatian Coast, is preparing for film crews to arrive later this year to start shooting.

Much of the original Mamma Mia was filmed on the Greek holiday islands of Skopelos, Skiathos and the nearby mainland Pelion coast.

Talk of losing the sequel to Croatia has sparked fury at the Greek Ministry of Tourism for allegedly losing millions of euros through the loss of production locations.

Movie makers Universal have neither confirmed nor denied the rumours but Greek media has been full of stories of the loss of the sequel.

The filming of the original gave a major boost to the tourism economy in Greece and Skopelos still trades on its link to the movie and the marriage scenes in the tiny white chapel of Agios Ioannis.

Critics claim infamous Greek red tape and the lack of facilities in Greece for foreign movie makers is behind the move to Croatia.

Greek ministry officials claim they have never even been approached by Universal but the government is still being blamed for the lack of incentives to movie companies to film in Greece and the red tape hurdles that companies face if they try.

Many in the Greek media have urged the government to make the country more attractive to foreign filmmakers and point to huge benefits for the tourism industry and for employment on the islands.

Most notorious has been the apocryphal story of Hollywood director Oliver Stone being left waiting 45 minutes outside a Greek minister's office over the filming of his blockbuster Alexander before he tired of waiting and left. It was eventually filmed in Malta and Morocco.

Rumours are also rife that Warner Bros is not even considering Greece for location shots in its forthcoming movie the Odyssey. Insiders say Malta is the favoured spot as it is generous with facilities and tax benefits for visiting pie production units and film crews.

Released in 2008, the romantic comedy musical Mamma Mia was then the UK's highest grossing film ever.

The tranquil and beautiful Kastani beach is one of the best on Skopelos and featured strongly in the movie as did the tiny chapel of Agios Ioannis, located in the remote north-east of the island.

Tourists can stand on the spot where Meryl Streep sang 'The winner takes it all' before running up the steps to the church but they will find them very steep.

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