Top Movies filmed in North Carolina

Although there are two of them, it’s North Carolina that gets the “Carolina” nickname, perhaps due to its size and population, which ranks at 28 and 9, respectively. There are approximately 10.5 million people living amongst its 53, 819 square miles. And among that number are over 100,000 Native Americans within eight recognized tribes.

Not only does the state share the over 500,000-acre Great Smoky Mountains National Park with neighboring Tennessee, but it is also home to Grandfather Mountain, a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve. The state has over ten national park sites, including the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills.

And if you think those are big deals, check out Biltmore Estate in Asheville, owned by the illustrious Vanderbilts, a home that remains to be the largest privately-owned in the US, despite having been built in 1895. And the highest waterfall on the east coast is Whitewater Falls.

Although the first English colony established in the US was Jamestown, VA, Roanoke Island was the first attempted colony in 1587. But that colony and all its people mysteriously vanished only three years later. Nonetheless, the Old North State was the 12th to enter the union.

And yet another aspect of the state that makes it so interesting is how many movies have been filmed there, whether as a whole or in part. Take a look at our below list of some of the most interesting:

Movies filmed in North Carolina

The Crow (1994)

The Crow

(Rent – Buy – Stream)

This fantasy movie was Brandon Lee’s final role, as he was accidentally killed while it was shooting. Costars included Ernie Hudson and Rochelle Davis. The film tells the story of a murdered musician who is brought back to life in order to get revenge for his murder. Filming was done in Wilmington and Castle Hayne.

1 h 41 min | R

The Color Purple (1985)

The Color Purple

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Steven Spielberg’s 8th movie, this drama was based upon Alice Walker’s 1982 novel. The film starred Danny Glover, Whoopi Goldberg, and Oprah Winfrey. It follows the life of Celie, a young African American girl growing up in early 1900s Georgia. Some shots were done in Charlotte, Wadesboro, Salisbury, Lilesville, Marshville, and Ansonville.

2 h 33 min | 18+

The Handmaid’s Tale (1990)

The Handmaid's Tale

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Way before it was a Hulu series, it was a movie. And before that, it was a 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood. The film had Natasha Richardson, Robert Duvall and Faye Dunaway leading. In a dystopian future, fertile women are wrangled up and forced to produce children. The film was done in Durham, Raleigh and the Blue Ridge Mountains area.

1 h 48 min | R

Once Around (1991)

This romcom starred Richard Dreyfuss, Holly Hunter, and Danny Aiello. Renata (Hunter) brings the much older Sam (Dreyfuss) home to her family in Boston, who despite seeing how happy she is, have trouble accepting him in, with some of those reasonings being valid. Some locations were done in Durham and Raleigh.

1h 55m | 15+

A Walk to Remember (2002)

A Walk to Remember

(Rent – Buy – Stream)

This romance was based upon a 1999 book by Nicholas Sparks. It had Mandy Moore and Shane West in the lead roles as two high school students from different cliques falling in love. The movie was filmed in Wilmington, with many of its sets borrowed from the WB network’s Dawson’s Creek.

1 h 42 min | PG

Dream a Little Dream (1989)

Dream A Little Dream

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Starring the dynamic duo known as the “Two Coreys” (Haim and Feldman), this romcom told the story of a teenager who becomes involved in a body switch where he takes on the personality of an elderly man. Other costars included Meredith Salenger and Jason Robards. The film was done entirely in Wilmington.

1 h 54 min | PG-13

Bull Durham (1988)

Bull Durham

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This romantic sports film starred Kevin Costner, Tim Robbins, and Susan Sarandon. Costner, a minor leaguer, is tasked with coaching Robbins to get him ready to play in the major leagues. The film depicted a minor league baseball team in Durham, and the film was shot there as well as in Asheville, Burlington, Greensboro, and Raleigh.

1 h 47 min | R

The Fugitive (1993)

The Fugitive (1993)

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This movie was based on a 1960s television show. The movie starred Harrison Ford as the fugitive Dr. Richard Kimble who was accused of murdering his wife, and Tommy Lee Jones as the deputy marshal tasked with locating him. The film was set in Chicago with some locations done in Bryson City, the Blue Ridge Parkway, Dillsboro, and Sylva.

2 h 10 min | PG-13

Betsy’s Wedding (1990)

Betsy's Wedding

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This rom-com was directed, written, and even starred actor Alan Alda. Other actors included Molly Ringwald, Ally Sheedy, and Madeline Kahn. Despite finances being strapped, Eddie Hopper wants to give his daughter an extravagant wedding. Some filming was done in Wilmington.

1 h 34 min | R

Cat’s Eye (1985)

Stephen King's Cat's Eye

(Rent – Buy – Stream)

This horror anthology was written by Stephen King, and included two stories from his 1978 Night Shift book and one original tale. Each of them involves a cat. The cast included James Woods, Drew Barrymore, and Robert Hays. The stories were “Quitters, Inc.”, “The Ledge”, and “General.” Filming was done in Wilmington.

1 h 34 min | PG-13

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

The Last of the Mohicans Director's Definitive Cut

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This historic drama was based upon an 1826 James Fenimore Cooper novel about the 1757 French and Indian War. Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeleine Stowe were in starring roles. Filming was done all over the state, including Chimney Rock, the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville, Pisgah National Forest, Dupont State Forest, and Weaverville.

1 h 54 min | R

Cabin Fever (2002)

Cabin Fever

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Director Eli Roth’s first film, this horror-comedy starred himself, Rider Strong and Jordan Ladd. In celebration of spring break, a group of friends rent a cabin in the woods. And one by one, the group is overtaken by a flesh-eating virus. Some filming was done in Coleridge, Danbury, and Mocksville.

1 h 32 min | R

Evil Dead II (1987)

Evil Dead 2

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This sequel/reboot to the 1991 movie brought back not only Ash Williams, but also the Book of the Dead, and that iconic cabin. Again, demons are released and again, the bodies begin to pile up. The film ends with Ash being teleported to 1300 AD, which is where the 1992 film starts up. Filming locations included Wadesboro and Wilmington.

1 h 24 min | R

Bastard Out of Carolina (1996)

Bastard Out of Carolina [Import All Region]

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This drama directed by Anjelica Huston was based on a 1992 Dorothy Allison book. It starred Jena Malone, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Ron Eldard. The film depicts the upbringing of Ruth Anne “Bone” in the 1950s, which included physical and sexual abuse by her stepfather. Filming was done in Whiteville, Wilmington, and Rocky Point.

1h 38m | R

Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Maximum Overdrive

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This film was the only one ever directed by author Stephen King and was based upon a short story from his 1978 Night Shift book. It had Emilio Estevez in the lead. Suddenly, every machine “comes alive”, which leads to a lot of problems and bodies. Filming locations included Wilmington, Supply, and Leland.

1 h 37 min | R

The Conjuring (2013)

The Conjuring (2013)

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This supernatural horror film was the first in the three-part series. It starred Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga as the real-life paranormal investigating duo, Ed and Lorraine Warren. This film deals with their involvement with the Perron family on Rhode Island and the demons that attack them. Filming was done in Wilmington and Currie.

1 h 51 min | R

Weekend at Bernie’s (1989)

This comedy starred Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman as two buddies invited to their boss’s beach house on Long Island, NY for the weekend. But when they get there, they find their boss dead. But that sure doesn’t stop them all from fun. Filming was done at Wrightsville Beach, Figure Eight Island, Kure Beach, and Wilmington.

1 h 38 min | PG-13

Just some of the other things that come out of North Carolina include sweet potatoes and strawberries. As far as industries are concerned, the leaders are tobacco, brick, and textile.

And some of your favorite brands have ties to North Carolina: Butterball, Food Lion, Krispy Kreme, Family Dollar, Lowe’s, and Pepsi are just a few of the companies who got their start or are currently headquartered there.

This is just a shortlist of films that have North Carolina to thank for their backgrounds. And with such an abundance of land for backgrounds, that list will only grow with age.

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