WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – From box office movies to streaming wars and growing demand for content, this has been a successful year for filmmaking in the Wilmington area and surrounding areas.
“2021 will be the biggest year in film history for both the Wilmington area and the state of North Carolina,” said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission.
Final numbers are yet to be released, but estimates show Wilmington’s film industry has made between $ 300 million and $ 325 million, according to Griffin.
The previous record was set in 2012 when the films Iron Man 3, We’re the Millers and The Conjuring were all filmed in Wilmington. That year, it grossed around $ 247 million.
The years since 2012 have been difficult for the film industry in North Carolina. A transgender bathroom ban chased new productions and a previous governor ended film subsidies.
“Over the last few years we’ve definitely had issues with the incentive, with HB2, with hurricanes, with different things that kind of caused little bumps in the road and let us know that our customers are watching. that and think like, “Well, that might not be the place to go right now,” Griffin said.
HB2 is now overthrown and big incentives are back on the table.
“Everything is kind of lined up to work in our favor right now,” Griffin said. “We have a great incentive program. The legislature has given us ongoing funding for this and there is no expiration date for the incentives, so [clients] know that in 1, 2 or 3 years, the incentive will still be there.
Which, in turn, sets the state and Wilmington up for more success in the future.
City officials have also allocated $ 400,000 in US bailout funds for a new training program for those looking to get started in the business.
“What we’ve seen, in the long run, is that it generates a lot more income, it creates jobs for our community and it keeps people in our community,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said in October.
Governor Roy Cooper touted the success of the film industry in August when he stopped by “Wilmywood” to report that film production projects in North Carolina had already spent a record amount in the state.
“With that kind of success in the midst of the pandemic – as soon as we get to the other side, I imagine we’re going to see an explosion in this area here,” Governor Cooper said in August.
The growth of the industry has also attracted national attention. CNBC’s Jane Wells did a profile piece end of October on the film industry of the region.
Movies and TV shows like Hallmark Channel’s Christmas in Harmony and Fox’s Our Kind of People have moved to Wilmington over the past year or so.
Wilmington has also helped fuel the streaming wars – a beast that’s always hungry for more content.
“Streaming has just skyrocketed. There are all kinds of new streaming services that have been launched during covid, ”Griffin said.
Even though the film made headlines and turned heads in Hollywood and national news networks, Griffin said it was all about exposure, exposure, exposure.
“What works best is having projects here where the industry starts talking about it itself,” he said. “The best thing is to have your clients promoting you and that’s what we’ve had real success with this year because we’ve had so many projects here and so many different businesses and, again , high level projects that were here this year. “
Make sure 2022 will be another year for the lights, the camera, the action!
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