Whether you live in the mountains, on the coast, or in the Piedmont, Hollywood probably came to you.
As geographically diverse as North Carolina is, it’s no surprise that filmmakers choose the Old North State time and time again. From the lush forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the calming waters of Wrightsville Beach, some of the most critically acclaimed (and critically bombed) films have been made within NC’s borders.
The movies we’ve listed are just a few of the most well-known to be filmed in North Carolina. Check out the full ongoing archive of notable movies and television shows filmed in our state here.
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Triangle – Bull Durham (1988), I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Iron Man 3 (2013)
Did you know Epic Games’ offices in Cary were used to film Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) headquarters in Iron Man 3? Although part of the movie is set in rural Tennessee, various scenes were actually filmed in Duplin County, including the “Miss Chattanooga Christmas Pageant.”
The classic slasher film I Know What You Did Last Summer was set in Southport, although the majority of scenes were filmed along the California coast. The protagonist, Julie (Jennifer Love Hewitt), attends Boston College, but if you pay close attention you’ll notice her college scenes were actually filmed at Duke University.
Of course it’s obvious in the name, but the 1988 hit romantic comedy and sports film Bull Durham was filmed in Durham. Starring Kevin Costner as veteran catcher “Crash” Davis, the movie depicted real players and fans of the Bull City’s minor league baseball franchise—the Durham Bulls.
Writer and director Ron Shelton told The Southern Ledger in 2008 that Durham was chosen because of the location of the old Durham Athletic Park. The old ballpark was “among abandoned tobacco warehouses and on the edge of an abandoned downtown and in the middle of a residential neighborhood where people could walk.”
Western NC – Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier (1955), The Last Of The Mohicans (1992), Richie Rich (1994), Forrest Gump (1994), The Green Mile (1999), Dirty Dancing (1987), Patch Adams (1998)
From the grand scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the luxurious palace that is Biltmore Estate, there’s no surprise that filmmakers have chosen western North Carolina to shoot some of the most iconic scenes in the history of American cinema.
Richie Rich, Patch Adams, and The Last Of The Mohicans were all shot on various parts of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville. About 28 miles away, Lake Lure is famous for the Dirty Dancing scene where Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) lifts Baby (Jennifer Grey) out of the water during a dance routine.
Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks has filmed two hit movies in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In Forrest Gump, the titular character (played by Hanks) famously runs across the country and a part of his run takes him to Grandfather Mountain. Visitors can still check out “Forrest Gump Curve” about halfway up the mountain. The Oscar-nominated film The Green Mile, which also starred Hanks, was partly filmed in Blowing Rock and other parts of Blue RIdge.
Charlotte Area – He Got Game (1998), Shallow Hal (2001), Juwanna Mann (2002), The Eyes of Tammy Faye (2021), Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006), Leatherheads (2008), Days Of Thunder (1990), The Hunger Games (2012), The Color Purple (1985)
The Queen City might be the king of comedy movies that have aged poorly. Shallow Hal (starring Jack Black and Gwyneth Paltrow) and Juwanna Mann (starring Miguel A. Núñez Jr. and Vivica A. Fox) feature beautiful scenes of uptown Charlotte and Freedom Park in the early 2000s, but two decades later, both films are cringeworthy rewatches.
If you’ve ever been to a NASCAR race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, you may be sitting in the same seats that extras sat in during the filmings of Days Of Thunder and Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby. One of many collaborations between producer Jerry Bruckheimer and A-list actor Tom Cruise, Days of Thunder was critically panned for taking itself too seriously. On the other hand, Talladega Nights (starring Will Ferrell) was a complete parody of the sport.
The 2012 blockbuster The Hunger Games was filmed throughout North Carolina. According to IMDB, the arena scenes were filmed in Asheville and the scenes of District 12 from the beginning of the movie were filmed in Shelby and Pisgah National Forest. However, all of the “Capitol” scenes were filmed in Charlotte, including the tribute interview scenes which were filmed in Knight Theater.
Known for being the film that tied the record for the most Academy Award nominations without a win, Steven Spielberg’s The Color Purple was mostly filmed in Anson and Union counties as well as some parts of Charlotte and Salisbury.
Legendary director Spike Lee filmed parts of his 1998 sports drama He Got Game at Elon University and the now demolished Charlotte Coliseum. The Eyes of Tammy Faye, an upcoming biopic about the late televangelist Tammy Faye Messner (formerly Bakker) was filmed in Charlotte where the real Messner lived with her first husband and fellow televangelist, Jim Bakker, during the couple’s hayday.
Eastern NC – Idlewild (2006), A Walk To Remember (2002), Dear John (2010), The Longest Ride (2015), Weekend At Bernie’s (1989), Black Knight (2001), We’re The Millers (2013), Tammy (2014), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), The Secret Life Of Bees (2008)
The sandy beaches of eastern North Carolina are no stranger to the silver screen. Several scenes of the late 1980s comedy Weekend At Bernie’s were filmed on Wrightsville Beach.
In 1990, the first ever theatrical film based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was produced at Screen Gem Studios in Wilmington. And the 2001 Martin Lawrence comedy flick Black Knight was predominantly filmed in Wilmington and on Carolina Beach.
Many of the movies based on Nicholas Sparks’ novels have been filmed in the Carolinas, including A Walk To Remember, Dear John, Message In A Bottle (1999), Nights In Rodanthe (2008) and The Longest Ride, which were all filmed throughout parts of New Hanover County and the state coastline.
Although Sue Monk Kidd’s bestselling novel, The Secret Life Of Bees, is based in South Carolina, the 2008 movie adaptation starring Queen Latifah, Alicia Keys, and Dakota Fanning was filmed in Lumberton and Watha.