Statewide Film Spending Reaching $409M, Local Productions Contribute $300M

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Aug 19, 2021
State film spending estimates are climbing and on track to hit a high this year, Gov. Roy Cooper announced in a press release Thursday.

Also on Thursday, the governor stopped by EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington.

According to the press release, the statewide film spending total has reached about $409 million from productions this year. 

Of that statewide figure, about $300 million of that spending has come through the Wilmington region to date. But the local spending figure is still just an estimate for the year, said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission.

"We've still got four months left in the year," Griffin said Thursday. "We've got several projects that we're talking to right now, that we're very hopeful are moving forward, which could boost that number significantly. But we just have to wait and see if they do materialize. But as of right now, it's certainly safe to say that currently, we're in the neighborhood of $300 million."

The statewide figure of $409 million is the "largest tally seen in the state since the creation of the North Carolina Film and Entertainment Grant in 2014," stated the release. The state offers a 25% rebate for certain productions through the film grant program.

“We’ve all worked hard toward this banner year for North Carolina’s film industry,” Cooper said in the release. “With our resilient communities and local businesses, and our growing reputation for inclusion and diversity, North Carolina will continue to provide a beautiful stage for film projects of all sizes in every corner of the state.”

This new in-state spending figure tops the state’s previous record of $373 million from 2012, when Iron Man 3, We’re The Millers, Revolution, Homeland and Banshee filmed in the state.

Currently in production locally are the Nexflix series Florida Man, Amazon's The Summer I Turned Pretty, Hallmark's Christmas In Harmony and FOX's Our Kind of People.

“Our consistent message of a strong workforce coupled with a stable and reliable rebate program has been heard loud and clear by production executives and has resulted in these economic developments wins for North Carolina,” Guy Gaster, director of the N.C. Film Office, said in the release. “There is a high demand for content and our state is proving that we are among the best in helping to bring these stories to life on screens of all sizes."

The major productions that have been awarded N.C. Film and Entertainment Grants for 2021 are:

  • Florida Man – Season 1Created by Donald Todd and executive produced by Jason Bateman and Michael Costigan for Aggregate Films, Netflix’s upcoming series centers around a struggling ex-cop (Edgar Ramírez), who returns to his home state of Florida to find a mobster’s runaway girlfriend. What should’ve been a quick gig soon turns into a wild odyssey. Featuring a slate of acclaimed directors such as EP Miguel Arteta and starring Ramírez alongside a cast including Anthony LaPaglia and Abbey Lee, Florida Man production is now underway and will continue into November in the greater Wilmington area. 
  • The Summer I Turned Pretty – Season 1Produced by wiip Studios in association with Amazon Studios, the series is about the magic of that one perfect summer.
  • Our Kind of People – Season 1Hailing from Twentieth Century Television, and scheduled to premiere on FOX this September, Our Kind of People is the story of a single mom, who risks it all and moves her family to a vineyard with hopes of taking her natural hair care line to the next level by infiltrating the African American elite in the Oak Bluffs community. Production is underway in and around Wilmington for the series.
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, MargaretLionsgate Studios returned to the state for the production for this feature film based on Judy Blume’s best-selling novel. Production took place this past spring with cameras rolling in Cabarrus, Gaston, Mecklenburg and Union counties.
  • The Peripheral – Season 1: From Amazon Studios, this production is set in the future where technology has subtly altered society.
  • Echoes – Season 1Echoes begins filming in September and is a mystery thriller about two identical twins, Leni and Gina, who share a dangerous secret. Since they were children, Leni and Gina have secretly swapped lives, culminating in a double life as adults: they share two homes, two husbands, and a child but everything in their perfectly choreographed world is thrown into disarray when one of the sisters goes missing. The production will be based out of EUE/Screen Gems Studios as it films in and around Southeastern North Carolina, with plans for filming key scenes in other parts of the state.
  • Along for the Ride: Adapted for the screen and directed by Sofia Alvarez, this Netflix feature is based on the YA novel of the same name from New York Times bestselling author Sarah Dessen. The film marks the directorial debut for Sofia Alvarez (To All the Boys I've Loved Before and To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You) and stars newcomer Emma Pasarow, Belmont Cameli, Kate Bosworth, Laura Kariuki with Andie MacDowell and Dermot Mulroney. The summer before college Auden (Emma Pasarow) meets the mysterious Eli (Belmont Cameli), a fellow insomniac. While the seaside town of Colby sleeps, the two embark on a nightly quest to help Auden experience the fun, carefree teen life she never knew she wanted. The film is produced by Screen Arcade’s Bryan Unkeless and Eric Newman and executive produced by Screen Arcade’s Alyssa Rodrigues, Sian McArthur, and Erika Hampson. Along For the Ride wrapped filming in New Hanover County in June.
  • Line SistersHailing from the North Carolina-based production company Swirl Films comes a made-for-TV movie for Lifetime about a group of best friends who experience a tragic accident while pledging a sorority and agree to cover it up. Now, 10 years later, the group starts experiencing things that make them think maybe the accident didn’t happen as they thought. The project completed filming in New Hanover County earlier this year.
  • One Summer: A made-for-TV movie, from production companies The Cartel and Crown Media that is set to premiere Sept. 26 on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel, One Summer centers around a widower who brings his family to his wife’s hometown for a summer vacation, discovering old and new love along the way. Production recently took place in Brunswick and New Hanover counties.
  • County Line: All In and County Line: No Fear: County Line: All In and County Line: No Fear are sequels to the original County Line movie, continuing the story of Sheriff Alden Rockwell as he solves crimes and brings justice to his home and neighboring counties. The movies, which star Tom Wopat (Dukes of Hazzard) and Patricia Richardson (Home Improvement), were filmed earlier this year in the greater Charlotte area, including at Media-Comm Studios. Both films were produced by Alpha Productions, a subsidiary of INSP Films, and distributed by Imagicomm Entertainment.
  • Christmas in HarmonyA second made-for-TV movie from The Cartel and Crown Media to air on one of the Hallmark channels, Christmas in Harmony tells the story of a woman who returns home to rediscover herself, and also finds love along the way. Filming on the holiday-themed feature is currently underway in the greater Wilmington area.
  • George and TammyGeorge & Tammy is produced by Spectrum Originals, MTV Entertainment Studios and 101 Studios. Starring Golden Globe Winner and Oscar Nominee Jessica Chastain, George and Tammy is a limited TV series for Spectrum Originals, Paramount+ and Paramount Network that chronicles the country music power couple, George Jones and Tammy Wynette. The production is scheduled to begin in the greater Wilmington area in 2021.
  • Hightown – Season 2From Lionsgate Television and Jerry Bruckheimer Television, the second season of Hightown continues the story of a woman’s journey to sobriety that is overshadowed by a murder, which she feels she needs to solve. As previously announced, the production filmed the second season of the series in southeastern North Carolina from September 2020 through February 2021.
  • Delilah – Season 1After pausing due to COVID-19, production on the first season of Delilah, a Warner Bros. Television series for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), wrapped in early 2021. The series features a headstrong, highly principled lawyer in Charlotte who left a demanding law firm a decade ago and hung her own shingle so she could make raising her children her top priority. As previously announced, the series filmed in the greater Charlotte area.
  • The Black PhoneBlumhouse Entertainment returned to the state with the feature The Black Phone, a story about a young boy who fights to escape the clutches of a serial killer with the help of past victims through a magic phone. The production filmed in New Hanover, Brunswick, and Columbus counties under the working title Static.
  • Welcome to Flatch – Season 1As previously announced and filmed as This Country, Lionsgate Television wrapped principal photography earlier this year on the half-hour mockumentary about a documentary film crew that goes to a small town to study young people and their current concerns. Filming took place in Pender and New Hanover counties and the project is expected to air in 2022 on FOX.
  • I.S.S.: LD Entertainment, whose N.C.-filmed production Words on Bathroom Walls was recently released, returned to the Tar Heel State with a new feature-length film I.S.S. The thriller features six astronauts living aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and follows their actions after receiving distressing information from Earth that threatens their missions and their lives. This project filmed in Wilmington at EUE/Screen Gems Studios.
  • Evolution: Another project that was put on hold due to the coronavirus, Evolution is the story of a mom determined to find a way forward for her family when her daredevil teenage son suffers a freak accident, finding hope from the most unexpected source. This feature filmed earlier this year in Catawba, Gaston, Mecklenburg, Iredell, Polk, Rutherford and Wake counties.
  • In addition to the above grant awardees, production has also taken place on several reality series including Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks and My Big Fat Fabulous Life as well as on national commercials for Chevrolet, Adidas, Shell and Volvo, among others.
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