12 Great TV Shows and Movies Filmed in Wilmington, NC


Quick, think about America’s biggest film hubs. Hollywood and New York City come to mind, don’t they?

You should add Wilmington to that list. The Wilmington film industry generated more than $300 million in 2021 alone. The city has been home to film and television productions for more than 35 years, and business won’t be letting up any time soon.

One reason why Wilmington is so popular for films is its versatility. The more you read about Wilmington film locations, the more you see how diverse the city can be.

What are some TV sites in Wilmington? What kinds of movies have been filmed inside the city? Where should you go if you want to make some day trips to incredible filming locations?

Answer these questions and you can become an expert on film and Wilmington in no time. Here are 12 TV shows and movies filmed in Wilmington.

1. Dawson’s Creek

Dawson’s Creek (1998-2003) is one of the most famous television shows filmed in Wilmington. The show follows a group of friends as they go to high school and college. The show is set in a fictional town in Massachusetts, but the showrunners opted to film in Wilmington because of its climate.

Multiple episodes were filmed at Reel Cafe, which is one of the best rooftop bars in Wilmington. In one episode, Joey buys Pacey a wall so he can paint murals. That wall is at the cafe, though it is now unpainted.

Platypus & Gnome is another restaurant that appeared in various episodes. You can stop in for meals and then go for a walk along the Wilmington Riverwalk, the site of a couple of first kisses on the show.

One scene in the show’s finale took place at Elijah’s Restaurant. It’s at the southern end of the Riverwalk, so you can visit it after a day of strolling along the water.

2. One Tree Hill

One Tree Hill (2003-2012) is another teen drama. The show is actually set in North Carolina, which gave the creators more free reign to use exterior Wilmington film locations.

Many of the show’s outdoor basketball games take place at Water Street Park. The park is near the Riverwalk, which was also used for several episodes of One Tree Hill.

“Tree Hill High School” is actually the Joe and Barbara Schwartz Center at 610 North Front Street. If you want to visit the “high school gym,” you can walk to the back of the building, which was used for exterior shots.

3. Under the Dome

Under the Dome (2013-2015) is based on a Stephen King novel about a small town that wakes up to find itself underneath a massive dome. The show used many locations in and around Wilmington.

In particular, the producers relied on small businesses to film exterior shots. National Gypsum and Corning Inc. lent their facilities to the producers to shoot several scenes.

4. Hightown

Hightown (2020-) is currently airing on Starz. It follows a woman living in Provincetown, Massachusetts who battles drug and alcohol addictions. She finds the body of a murder victim, sparking an investigation into organized crime families.

The Hanover Seaside Club, St. Mary’s Catholic School, and the Hannah Block Community Arts Center are three major locations used for the show. The producers have also used many intersections for outdoor scenes, some of which feature Wilmington residents as extras.

5. Blue Velvet

Blue Velvet (1986) is one of the most famous movies filmed in Wilmington. Directed by legendary filmmaker David Lynch, the film follows a college student who discovers a severed ear in a field.

Most of the film was shot at EUE/Screen Gems Studios. But various locations around Wilmington were used for exterior shots, including the Carolina Apartments on 5th and Market Street. Many Wilmington residents came out to watch the production, forcing Lynch to use different shots so they weren’t in the frame.

6. Halloween Kills

Halloween Kills (2021) is the 12th movie in the Halloween franchise. Michael Myers returns to attack Laurie Strode and her family, but she and her family have rallied their community to fight back.

The producers filmed the entire movie in Wilmington. They filmed a car crash scene on Fifth Avenue and gun battle scenes in Wallace Park and on Creecy Avenue.

The producers intended to film the sequel, Halloween Ends, in Wilmington. But they decided to move the production to Georgia, where they began shooting earlier this year.

7. Scream 5

Scream 5 (2022) is the fifth installment of the Scream film series. The movie takes place 25 years after the original movie, following a serial killer who targets teenagers related to the original cast of characters.

The producers used Williston Middle School for exterior shots, turning it into “Woodsboro High School.” For interior shots, they used Cardinal Lanes Shipyard and homes along 10th Street. EUE/Screen Gems Studios was the site for most internal scenes.

8. The Black Phone

The Black Phone (2022) follows a kidnapped child who can use a phone to talk to previous victims of his kidnapper. The film will be released in theaters on June 24.

The bulk of the production took place at EUE/Screen Gems Studios. A few local actors have roles in the film, including Megan Petersen. Co-writer C. Robert Cargill sent out tweets as the movie was being filmed to encourage filmmakers to go to Wilmington to shoot their movies.

9. Iron Man 3

Iron Man 3 (2013) is the film with the biggest budget and box-office gross to film in Wilmington. Most of the movie was filmed at EUE/Screen Gems Studios.

But you can also see the Port of Wilmington during the climax. Wilmington International Airport was used for one brief scene.

To see other set locations in NC, you can drive south to Oak Island, less than an hour away from Wilmington. The water off the coast of the town was used for the scene where Iron Man rescues people from Air Force One.

10. The Longest Ride

The Wilmington film hub serves more than horror and action films. The Longest Ride (2015) is a Western and romantic movie adapted from a Nicholas Sparks novel. A young couple meets an elderly man and learns about his lost love and incredible paintings.

Visiting Wilmington’s historic district is one of the most fun things to do in Wilmington. You can also visit several set locations. St. Mary’s Catholic School, the Temple of Israel, and the Union Station Building were all filming locations.

The Graystone Inn was the site of a party scene, and it is a great location for an overnight stay. The Cameron Art Museum is one of Wilmington’s leading hubs for the visual arts. The producers used the museum for several scenes, decorating the museum to make it seem like a few different art galleries.

11. Safe Haven

Safe Haven (2013) is another adaptation of a Nicholas Sparks book. A woman flees her past and falls in love with a North Carolina man, but their relationship is tested by several forces.

The Wilmington Convention Center appears at the start of the movie as a bus station. Private homes at Metts and Brookwood Avenues were used for a few scenes. You can drive by, but you cannot go on the properties themselves.

If you want to stretch your legs a little, you can visit Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, the site of the movie’s big kissing scene. The park is 15 miles south of Wilmington, but it lies within the Wilmington metropolitan area. You can walk along the beach and go fishing in the surf.

12. Empire Records

Empire Records (1995) is a comedy-drama film about record store employees fighting to keep their store from being sold to a chain. The exterior scenes of the record store were filmed at 15 South Front Street while the interior scenes were at EUE.

The producers turned a few feet of 15 South Front Street into a replica of the soundstage. This allowed them to film actors walking into the building before cutting to the interior set. The back of the building was also used for exterior shots.

The Biggest Wilmington Film Locations

Wilmington film locations may surprise you. You can find the Riverwalk in many movies and television shows, including Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill. EUE/Screen Gems Studios is extremely popular amongst major Hollywood directors.

Yet you can find Wilmington’s homes, museums, and beaches in movies and TV shows as well. The area around the city is also extremely popular, especially sites like Fort Fisher State Recreation Area.

Explore Wilmington as Hollywood’s greatest actors and directors have. Cape Fear Weekend lets you plan perfect vacations. Browse our calendar for upcoming events today.

Kolby Bass

Kolby Bass

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