Made in NC: 10 Movies Filmed in North Carolina

Not everything Made in North Carolina comes out of a factory, workshop, laboratory or kitchen.

Sure, we've become world famous for our agriculture, furniture and cutting-edge tech developed in the Research Triangle. But some of our most celebrated exports are moving pictures projected on a screen or streamed through your television, laptop or phone.

It turns out that North Carolina provides the perfect backdrop for a whole cinematic universe of characters from Iron Man and Forrest Gump to Bad Grandpa and Ricky Bobby.

But it's not just our breathtaking beaches and sensational scenery that brings filmmakers to the Tar Heel State, it's our growing infrastructure of production facilities, a skilled workforce and a long list of incentives that make it easier than ever to say, "Lights, Camera, Action."

In an August 2021 press release, Governor Roy Cooper announced that filmmakers producing projects in North Carolina are on track to invest a record amount of money in the state. The release adds that the $409 million investment in productions will create more than 25,000 job opportunities for highly skilled film professionals and background talent in our state.

“These multimillion-dollar revenues for 2021 are great economic development wins for North Carolina,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “Our film industry, with its experienced production talent and compelling film locations, creates good paying jobs and positive economic impacts for our economy.”

A quick check of the website for the North Carolina Film Office reveals a growing list of current productions including feature films, TV series and made-for-TV movies that will ensure a steady slate of silver screen exports in the years ahead.

You might be surprised how many Hollywood blockbusters have found that "perfect shot" in our very own small towns and big cities. That's why we've shined the spotlight on 10 of them, highlighting the shooting locations and sharing some fun facts from behind the scenes.


Dirty Dancing

Release Date: August 12, 1987 
Stars: Jennifer Grey, Patrick Swayze, Jerry Orbach
NC Filming Locations: Lake Lure, North Carolina

IMDB Synopsis: Spending the summer at a Catskills resort with her family, Frances "Baby" Houseman falls in love with the camp's dance instructor, Johnny Castle.

Fun Facts:

  • Since the movie was filmed at Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, there is now an annual Dirty Dancing Festival held at Lake Lure each year.
  • It took just 43 days to film Dirty Dancing.
  • Because of the amount of camera and lighting equipment needed for filming, temperatures inside got as high as 120 degrees. According to choreographer Kenny Ortega, ten people passed out one day within 25 minutes.
  • At the 1988 Academy Awards, the film won a Best Original Song Oscar for "(I've Had) The Time of My Life"
  • It also won a 2008 TV Land Viewers Choice Awards for "Movie Dance Sequence You Reenacted in Your Living Room"


Forrest Gump

Release Date: July 6, 1994
Stars: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Sally Field
NC Filming Locations: Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, Boone

IMDB Synopsis: The presidencies of Kennedy and Johnson, the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal and other historical events unfold from the perspective of an Alabama man with an IQ of 75, whose only desire is to be reunited with his childhood sweetheart.

Fun Facts:

  • Tom Hanks recruited his brother, Jim, to be his acting double in the movie for the scenes of Forrest running across the U.S. (including stretches of the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain in NC)
  • Hanks' daughter Elizabeth played the role of the girl on the school bus who would not let young Forrest sit next to her
  • Mykelti Williamson, who played the role of Bubba stated: “I couldn’t get a job after Forrest Gump. The industry didn’t realize that I was wearing a lip device and that I was the same guy who had appeared in 11 TV series. They thought the director had discovered some weird-looking guy and put him in front of a camera.”
  • At the 67th Academy Awards, Forrest Gump won six Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director
  • Forrest Gump was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry


The Hunger Games

Release Date: March 23, 2012
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks
NC Filming Locations: Brevard in Transylvania County, Shelby, Charlotte and Asheville

IMDB Synopsis: Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games: a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death.

Fun Facts:

  • Jennifer Lawrence dyed her blonde hair dark for the part of Katniss 
  • Lionsgate hired Olympic bronze medal-winning archer Khatuna Lorig to teach Jennifer Lawrence how to shoot for the film. Lawrence also underwent extensive physical training to get in shape for her role which included, archery, rock and tree climbing, combat, running, parkour, and yoga.
  • Lawrence was paid $500,000 for her work in The Hunger Games. Because the film was such a box-office hit, she enjoyed a raise to $10 million for the sequel.

Made in NC Movies Filmed in North Carolina Talladega

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Release Date: August 4, 2006
Stars: Will Ferrell, John C. Reilly, Sacha Baron Cohen, Leslie Bibb
NC Filming Locations:  Charlotte, Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord and the North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham

IMDB Synopsis: Number one NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby stays atop the heap thanks to a pact with his best friend and teammate, Cal Naughton, Jr. But when a French Formula One driver, makes his way up the ladder, Ricky Bobby's talent and devotion are put to the test.

Fun Facts:

  • Scenes of the Ricky Bobby residence were filmed at a mansion near Lake Norman
  • Wonder Bread, Old Spice, and Perrier were not charged for their product placement in the movie.
  • At the 2012 Aaron's 499 at Talladega, Kurt Busch's Impala used Ricky Bobby's "ME" paint scheme
  • The film won two Stinkers Bad Movie Awards for "Worst Title" and "Most Annoying Fake Accent" (Sacha Baron Cohen)
  • It also won "Best Kiss" at the MTV Movie Awards for the smooch between Ricky Bobby (Ferrell) and Jean Girard (Cohen)


Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa

Release Date: October 25, 2013
Stars: Johnny Knoxville
NC Filming Locations: Belmont, Charlotte, Gastonia, Chapel Hill

IMDB Synopsis: 86-year-old Irving Zisman takes a trip from Nebraska to North Carolina to take his 8 year-old grandson, Billy, back to his real father.

Fun Facts:

  • Transforming Johnny Knoxville into an 86-year-old man, took extensive prosthetic makeup. The process required three and a half hours every morning and five hours if a scene required the character to appear shirtless.
  • Knoxville thought Jackson Nicoll was perfect in the role of the grandson. “Jackson would just follow me on the set and verbally assault me while hitting me in the zipper,” Knoxville said. “I was just shaking my head thinking that this kid is a piece of work. He’s unbelievable. I think he was sent from heaven.”
  • The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Makeup and Hairstyling


Iron Man 3

Release Date: April 14, 2013
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley
NC Filming Locations: Kenansville, Wilmington, Cary, Rose Hill, Currie, Oak Island and Wilmington International Airport

IMDB Synopsis: When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

Fun Facts:

  • Filmmakers used the former headquarters of Epic Games (Fortnite) to double as Stark Headquarters
  • There is an edit of Iron Man 3 which offers additional, extended scenes with characters played by Chinese movie stars, made specifically for the Chinese audience.
  • When shooting in Wilmington, the production title of the movie was "Caged Heat" 



Release Date: April 4, 2008
Stars: George Clooney, Renee Zellweger, John Krasinski
NC Filming Locations:  Statesville, Greensboro, Winston-Salem, Yadkin County, Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer 

IMDB Synopsis: In 1925, an enterprising pro football player convinces America's too-good-to-be-true college football hero to play for his team and keep the league from going under.

Fun Facts:

  • The football game scenes at the beginning and at the end of the picture were filmed at Memorial Stadium, near Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte
  • The cast was taught by a football technical advisor, teaching 1920s football to look and sound like real players back in that era 


Bull Durham

Release Date: June 15, 1988
Stars: Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins
NC Filming Locations: Durham, Asheville, Burlington, Greensboro, Wilson and Raleigh

IMDB Synopsis: A fan who has an affair with one minor-league baseball player each season meets an up-and-coming pitcher and the experienced catcher assigned to him.

Fun Facts:

  • The bar scene takes place in Mitch's Tavern in Raleigh, across the street from NC State University. 
  • Grady Little was credited as "baseball trainer." At the time of filming, he was the manager of the real Durham Bulls.
  • Because it was filmed in North Carolina in October and November, filmmakers had to touch up the grass with green paint.
  • Ranked #5 on the list of Greatest Sports Films by the American Film Institute


The Longest Ride

Release Date: April 10, 2015
Stars: Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood, Jack Huston, Oona Chaplin
NC Filming Locations: Wilmington, Winston-Salem, Jacksonville, Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum

IMDB Synopsis: The lives of a young couple intertwine with a much older man, as he reflects back on a past love.

Fun Facts:

  • The Longest Ride is the tenth film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel and was the first Sparks film to earn a CinemaScore of an “A” since The Notebook
  • Nicholas Sparks was involved in hiring the director and screenwriter and casting the actors 
  • The film stars are descendants of Hollywood icons: Scott Eastwood is the son of Clint EastwoodJack Huston is the grandson of John Huston, and Oona Chaplin is the granddaughter of Charlie Chaplin.

Made in NC Movies Filmed in North Carolina - Nights

Nights in Rodanthe

Release Date: September 26, 2008
Stars: Richard Gere, Diane Lane
NC Filming Locations: Village of Rodanthe, Wilmington, Southport, Topsail Beach, Carolina Beach

IMDB Synopsis: A doctor, who is travelling to see his estranged son, sparks with an unhappily married woman at a North Carolina inn.

Fun Facts:

  • "Serendipity," the original house featured in the film was built too close to the beach, with an insufficient foundation. It was damaged in several storms, declared a public nuisance and condemned. Later, it was purchased, moved to a new location, and renovated.
  • As of 2013, the house has been renamed "The Inn at Rodanthe" and completely refurbished to more closely resemble the interior movie scenes which were filmed elsewhere in North Carolina.

Currituck County NC Commercial Property CTA

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