The Fabulous East: On Peripheral Media Capitals and the Streaming Fantasy Television Genre
Major media industries across the world are increasingly shooting in studios and locations of less wealthy nations to save money. Using the case of high-end, streaming fantasy television series, which are often produced in Central and Eastern Europe, this essay develops the concept of “peripheral media capitals,” or cities that have become major sites for servicing foreign media productions, especially Hollywood productions. Based on fieldwork conducted in Budapest, Hungary, I show how peripheral media capitals across the region are at the confluence of economic, political, physical, and cultural geographies that have allowed them to establish competitive advantages in certain genres of television, particularly the high-fantasy genre. Investigating high-fantasy television production in Budapest reveals how a chain of regional peripheral media capitals must work together to service the insatiable needs of the global media industries and, through that process, attain a relatively durable competitive advantage.