North Carolina (especially the Wilmington area) has often been called “Hollywood of the East.” Considering how geographically diverse our state is, it’s really no surprise that filmmakers choose it again and again for all or part of their filming locations. From the dense green forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the scenic waters of its many beaches, some of the most critically acclaimed films have been made right here in our fair state.
Dirty Dancing (1987)
Locations: Lake Lure
Baby (Jennifer Grey) dreams of joining the Peace Corps. She is clearly not happy about spending the summer at Kellerman’s resort in the Catskills with her parents and prima donna sister whose main concern is whether or not she packed the right shoes. Everything begins to change when the resort’s dance instructor, Johnny (Patrick Swayze), chooses Baby as his new partner (out of desperation), and the two begin to fall in love.
Bull Durham (1988)
Locations: Durham and surrounding areas, Asheville
Bull Durham’s Crash Davis (Kevin Costner), a twelve-year veteran in minor league baseball, is sent to Durham as the team’s catcher to educate their star player, pitcher, ‘Nuke’ LaLoosh (Tim Robbins). Comedy and a love triangle ensue as Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon) is dedicated to her tradition of sticking with only one player a season, but also attracted to another.
The Green Mile (1999)
Locations: Blowing Rock, Moses H. Cone Memorial Park
Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) had never encountered someone like John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), a massive man convicted of brutally killing two young sisters. Coffey possesses the size and strength to kill anyone, but not the personality. Coffey also seemed to have an extraordinary, supernatural gift. Edgecomb begins to question Coffey’s guilt.
Cold Mountain (2003)
Locations: Pisgah National Forest
Based on the 1997 bestselling novel by Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain recounts the story of a wounded Confederate soldier (Inman) Jude Law at the end of the Civil War. Inman’s main desire is to get home to his sweetheart Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman) with whom he has only shared a few moments, but to whom he still feels a deep connection. His journey is perilous and long and the people waiting back home do not have an easy time of it either.
Safe Haven (2013)
Locations: Southport, Blue Ridge Parkway
A young woman, Katie (Julianne Hough) with a mysterious past lands in Southport, North Carolina, from Boston where her bond with widower Alex (Josh Duhamel) forces her to confront the dark secret that haunts her. Safe Haven is the film adaptation of a popular Nicholas Sparks novel.
Days of Thunder (1990)
Racing brings Cole Trickle (Tom Cruise) to North Carolina to race in the Winston Cup at Charlotte Motor Speedway. A rivalry turned to friendship between Trickle and Rowdy Burns (Michael Rooker) leads to a tough decision. A potential injury results in a love interest with neurosurgeon Dr. Claire Lewicki (Nicole Kidman).
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017)
Locations: Sylva, Asheville, Black Mountain
Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) decides to take things into her own hands after her daughter is murdered. She paints three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Woody Harrelson), the town’s chief of police.
The Last of the Mohicans (1992)
Locations: Chimney Rock
James Fenimore Cooper’s classic novel appeared in 1826, sixty-nine years after the events of the French and Indian War that is its subject. In the 1992 film version, the last members of a dying Native American tribe, the Mohicans, Chingachgook (Russell Means), Uncas (Eric Schweig), and his adopted half-white brother Hawkeye (Daniel Day-Lewis) are living in peace alongside British colonists. When the daughters Cora and Alice Monru (Madeleine Stowe, Jodhi May) of a British colonel are kidnapped by a traitorous scout, Hawkeye and Uncas must rescue them in the midst of a deadly military conflict which they wanted no part of: the French and Indian War.
Locations: Winston Salem, Greensboro
Art dealer Madeleine (Embeth Davidtz) has traveled to North Carolina to both pursue an artist and meet her husband’s family, who have an interesting dynamic (to say the least). Together with her husband George (Allesandro Nivola), she becomes acquainted with the family which includes his pregnant sister-in-law Ashley (Amy Adams). Madeline gains greater understanding into George’s past and personality through getting to know his eccentric family.