Hollywood of the East: Wilmington’s notable television and film appearances


Travis Stoker

The riverwalk along the Cape Fear River in downtown Wilmington.

Kyle Kissinger, Assistant Lifestyles Editor

The state of North Carolina has earned the title of “Hollywood of the East” from the dozens of unforgettable television shows and films that have been produced here in the recent years.

Earlier this year, Gov. Roy Cooper reintroduced the tax incentive that had previously driven film production in the state, in hopes to reaffirm North Carolina’s status as the Hollywood of the East. The NC Film and Entertainment grant would provide an up to 25 percent rebate on expenses and purchases while filming within the state. This rebate would cap out at $5 million per feature film, $9 million for a television series season or $250,000 per commercial.

Wilmington has been the home to many productions since the early 1980s, as EUE/Screen Gems Studios the second largest TV and movie production studio located east of California is located here.

Here is a look at some of the notable television shows and films that have been shot in the Wilmington area.

“Dawson’s Creek” (1998 – 2003)

“Dawson’s Creek” was largely filmed in Wilmington – including Wrightsville Beach, Southport, and in studios at EUE/Screen Gems. Alderman Hall on UNC Wilmington’s campus made appearances in the show, serving as exterior shots for Capeside High School. In April 2003, a bench was placed outside the hall commemorating the frequent usage of UNCW’s campus for the show’s filming. Due to UNCW’s architectural uniformity, it was difficult for UNCW to double as another campus in the show when the characters reached college in the fifth and sixth season. Therefore, scenes were filmed at Duke University and around Franklin Street at the University of North Carolina.

“One Tree Hill” (2003 – 2012)

“One Tree Hill” could be considered Wilmington’s crown jewel, as the filming of the show took place all across the Wilmington area for nine consecutive years. Some notable filming locations include Trask Coliseum on UNCW’s campus, The Riverwalk and Cape Fear Community College. Since the show’s conclusion, some of the filming locations have changed due to the test of time. For example, the Rivercourt has since been removed and replaced with a pavilion and Karen’s Café has been renovated and now is an Outdoor Equipped. Many of these filming locations are covered in the scrawlings of quotes and messages of the show from fans, allowing “One Tree Hill” to live on forever in Wilmington.

“Iron Man 3” (2013)

If you were in the Wilmington area in early 2013, you might have caught a glimpse of stunt crews taking flight above the Cape Fear River. Unfortunately, not much of Wilmington is recognizable within “Iron Man 3” – much of the film was shot inside of Screen Gems Studios – but the film still remains the largest to ever be produced in Wilmington. Marvel also looked at Wilmington as an option to film “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” following the production of “Iron Man 3,” but instead decided on filming in Los Angeles.

“The Conjuring” (2013)

2013’s hit horror movie “The Conjuring” was not just filmed in the Wilmington area, but UNC Wilmington’s Lumina Theater – located in the Fisher Student Center – was utilized in a scene of the film. UNCW’s George Zervos, who currently is an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion and a former Greek Orthodox priest, performed as a Catholic priest during an exorcism in a scene of the film. Director James Wan wanted “a man who could speak Latin and look like he could battle a demon,” and Zervos fit perfectly. The iconic house that is used in the film is located just outside of Wilmington in Canetuck.

“We’re the Millers” (2013)

Downtown Wilmington had a heavy presence in the opening scenes of “We’re the Millers.” Filmed almost exclusively on Front Street, Port City Java (known as Burklyn Cafe in the film) and Pender’s Café made appearances in the film. David’s (Jason Sudeikis) apartment was the building at 200 Front Street, and 100 South Front Street served as an exterior of a strip club.

“Revolution” (2012 – 2014)

While the pilot of this short-lived NBC show was filmed in Atlanta, the rest of the first season’s filming took place in Wilmington. Production for the second season was shifted to Austin, Texas after the show had trouble finding locations to film at. Wilmington Regional Film Commission Director Johnny Griffin told the StarNews, “It’s a good thing that the town doesn’t have that many vacant buildings, but visually, they can only use a location so many times.” Filming took place primarily downtown, and in wooded areas outside of the downtown area. Here is a map of Revolution’s filming locations.

“Good Behavior” (2016 –)

TNT’s “Good Behavior” is currently Wilmington’s biggest production, as filming just wrapped late summer and season two premiered in October. According to StarNews, filming had taken place at Hugh MacRae park, Parchies Restaurant, Blue Post Billiards, Capt’n Bill’s Backyard Grill, Reggie’s Bar, Cape Fear Country Club and on several studio sound stages. Production had been based at EUE/Screen Gems Studios.