Have you ever thought the scenery in the movies, The Hunger Games, Dirty Dancing, Safe Haven, and The Color Purple looked familiar? What about in television shows, such as Homeland, One Tree Hill, and Dawson’s Creek? That’s because all of these films and shows are just some of the many productions filmed in our home state of North Carolina.
North Carolina, especially the Wilmington area, has often been called “Hollywood of the East Coast” and “Hollywood East.” These nicknames refer to the film and television industry within the area. Also known as “Wilmywood,” Wilmington is home to the EUE Screen Gems Studios, the largest domestically located film and television studio outside of California. First opened in 1984, the studio is home to the “Dream Stage 10,” which is the third largest soundstage in the US and includes the largest special effects water tank in North America. Many films, documentaries, and television series have been filmed here. Pretty cool to have right here in our own state!
Locals and tourists can experience the big and small screen scenery in Wilmington simply by taking a tour. On the Hollywood Locations Walk tour, you can take a 90-minute guided tour of movie and television locations, or you can take a self-guided tour of movie and TV sets on the Top Wilmington Film and TV Locations tour. And don’t miss the film festivals in Wilmywood! These festivals run throughout the year and include independent films, seasonal events, and movies for kids of all ages.
You may be asking why Wilmington and North Carolina are such hot locations for the film industry. First, there is the scenery of the Tarheel state. We have mountains on one side and the coast on the other. In between are rural and urban locations. We have a little bit of every type of scenery a film or television show could need. Along with the scenery, there is the weather. For most of the year, North Carolina has ideal weather; sometimes it’s hot, and sometimes it’s cold. The state’s climate allows for year-round filming, which many states don’t have. The history of North Carolina and the old architecture provides for any type of scene. From the newer buildings to historical sites to battleships on the coast, our architecture is fit for each storyline. Lastly, we are known for our shopping venues and restaurants. For example, on Dawson’s Creek, Elijah’s Restaurant in Wilmington is the location of the show’s Pacey’s Restaurant.
While Wilmington is one of the more famous towns, Southport and Burgaw aren’t far behind. Southport is known for the many Nicholas Sparks’ films set there, including Safe Haven. Sites in Burgaw are known for being seen in CBS’ Under the Dome television show. The Pender County Courthouse Square is a stand-in for the show’s Chester’s Mill town center. Also, stores, such as Burgaw Antiqueplace and Harrell’s Department Store, are backdrops for different scenes on the show.
Other favorite places for filming include Charlotte, the mountains, and Winston-Salem. Just a few years ago, Nicholas Sparks’ The Longest Ride had scenes shot at the Coliseum, and The Hunger Games was filmed in Black Mountain and Charlotte.
North Carolina is home to many films and television shows. Our state’s scenery, weather, and architecture are just some of the many reasons why we are called “Hollywood of the East Coast.”