Serving as the backdrop for many beloved movies and hit TV series, Wilmington and its island beaches stand as a premier destination for film production. With more than 400 projects to its credit, the area has earned the nicknames “Hollywood East” and “Wilmywood.”Embark on a set-jetting vacation to this historic riverfront city and its three nearby beaches and explore local locations – from a seaside state park to picturesque Southern gardens – that have been transformed into the settings of your favorite productions.
Known as one of the South's most actively haunted cities, Wilmington’s storied past and ghostly locations have made it backdrop for numerous horror films. These include "Firestarter," which debuted in theaters 40 years ago, as well as more recent productions. "Halloween Kills" converted parts of Cape Fear Community College’s campus into Haddonfield Memorial Hospital, "Scream" used Williston Middle School to represent Woodsboro High and "The Black Phone" featured Cape Fear Optimist Park’s baseball field.
If horror isn’t your genre, Wilmington has also been the setting for other popular movies, including “Iron Man 3,” which filmed scenes downtown along the Cape Fear. Nicholas Sparks' "Safe Haven" and "The Longest Ride" feature local landmarks like Bellevue Cemetery and the Graystone Inn.
Cult Classic TV-Shows
Step into the world of Tree Hill, NC on a walking tour of the iconic filming sites featured in the popular teen drama, “One Tree Hill,” with this guide. Throughout the show's nine seasons, local businesses and landmarks became familiar backdrops. Visit Wilmington’s award-winning Riverwalk to discover the famous Naley Bench, and nearby Blue Post Billiards, where Lucas and Brooke had their tattoo date. Explore Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in Kure Beach, where Nathan and Haley were married. Head to Johnnie Mercers Fishing Pier in Wrightsville Beach, where Brooke and Lucas kissed during the beach party in the third season. Uncover even more fan-favorite filming locations by joining the “One Tree Hill” e-bike tour with Wilmington Bike & Brew Tours.
“Dawson's Creek” captivated audiences for six seasons, and the Wilmington area doubled as the show’s fictitious coastal town, Capeside. Using our walking tour guide, explore locations that played pivotal roles in the show, including Airlie Gardens’ Bradley Creek Lawn, the venue of Joey and Dawson’s dream wedding, Hell’s Kitchen, also known as Molly’s Market, and the New Hanover County Arboretum’s Ability Garden, where Jen said her final goodbyes to her daughter in the series finale.
Popular Recent Releases
Amazon Prime TV’s "The Summer I Turned Pretty" chronicles the summer adventures of Belly, a teenager who spends her summers at Cousins Beach. Multiple seasons of the series have filmed in the area, including Fort Fisher State Historic Site in Kure Beach, the vintage seaside Carolina Beach Boardwalk and The Fat Pelican in Carolina Beach, as well as Wilmington spots like Hell's Kitchen and the Rooster & The Crow. The series is anticipated to return for next season’s production.
In its fourth season, the popular teen Netflix series "Outer Banks" has filmed scenes at Wrightsville Beach’s Crystal Pier and Oceanic Restaurant, along with Kure Beach’s Fort Fisher State Recreation Area. Local to the area, the series filmmaker returned to his roots by choosing Wilmington’s easily accessible beaches for shooting.
Airlie Gardens’ beautiful bottle chapel can be spotted in the 2023 thriller, “Breakwater.” The film tells the story of an ex-convict as he helps a fellow inmate search for his estranged daughter.
“Zoey 102,” the recently released movie sequel to the popular Nickelodeon series, “Zoey 101,” was filmed in Wilmington. The production showcases locations like Origins Food and Drink, The Common Desk and Hell’s Kitchen.
The Netflix series “Florida Man” features the Riverwalk and Carolina Beach Boardwalk, among other local spots.
An Industry and Fan Favorite
The city's annual Cucalorus Film Festival, recognized as one of the “Coolest Film Festivals in the World" by MovieMaker, is celebrating its 30th anniversary in November. This annual non-competitive festival and its beautiful riverside city setting draw cinephiles from around the globe. In addition, local film industry expansion is on the horizon as CineSpace, formerly known as EUE/Screen Gems Studios, is adding more studio space in Wilmington to accommodate a surge in production.
With a reputation as an enviable filming location among industry professionals and an exciting sightseeing destination for fans, “Wilmywood” is where your favorite productions come to life. Plan your set-jetting vacation and create unforgettable memories worthy of the big screen.