For the 2019 film, The Two Popes, starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce, Netflix perfectly recreated the Sistine Chapel, but the building was demolished as soon as shooting was finished.
The Vatican are notorious for being tricky customers for production companies to deal with, which is why they built their own version of the Sistine Chapel. If they do let you film inside the city, which is a rarity, they are strict about how long you can film for, and ultimately, Netflix were left with no choice but to recreate the Sistine Chapel themselves.
Once they finished the project, even though they’d gone to great expense to build the Sistine Chapel, there was no place to keep it. Instead, the replica building was brutally demolished. Anthony McCarten, who wrote the film, has now described the decision as a “crime”.
He told Artnet News: “Disastrously, I watched them wreck it after we finished shooting and I thought, ‘Oh God, I would love to take the end panel’ which was a complete, to-scale replica of the Last Judgment rendered in beautiful, vivid colors. I thought, ‘What a crime.’”
McCarten added: “The film industry is horrible like that. We build grand, grand pieces of history and, then, we finish shooting and walk off set, get in our cars and, as we’re leaving, we hear the sound of sledgehammers. The work has been so carefully put together and it’s rubble within an hour. You just have to avert your eyes; it’s too distressing.”
The demolition raises questions about what production companies should do with sets like this one and if it could have been opened as a museum for the public to view.