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If you’re looking for something fun to watch while staying inside, start with these movies filmed in North Carolina. You might just see a few places you’ve visited and others that you’ll want to visit afterward. We’ll first include 10 that were set in the state before sharing those filmed here but only for backdrop purposes.
Of course, North Carolina has long appeared in too many films to name, so consider this a collection of our favorites. And if you have one to add, we’d love to know about it, after you read through ours, of course!
If you’re seeking entertainment and don’t have the time to commit to a movie, try these TV shows filmed in North Carolina instead!
Movies Filmed in North Carolina (and Set Here, Too!)
Multiple movies have been filmed in Durham over the years, but this 1988 romantic comedy is the one that everyone knows. Scenes for the movie (including those at the original Durham Athletic Park) were shot in Durham, while locations in Raleigh, Greensboro, Burlington, Wilson, and Asheville were also used.
In Bull Durham, Kevin Costner plays “Crash” Davis, a journeyman Minor League catcher who is tasked with preparing stud pitcher “Nuke” Laloosh (Tim Robbins) for the Majors. Of course, this wouldn’t be an ’80s movie without a love triangle. Enter Annie Savoy (Susan Sarandon), the baseball groupie who complicates the players’ relationship.
Bull Durham typically wins the title of “Greatest Sports Movie,” whenever writers and readers of Sports Illustrated and other sports media are polled. Today, the “Hit the Bull, Win a Steak” sign lives above the left-field wall at Durham Bulls Athletic Park.
Based on the 1997 bestselling novel by Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, Renee Zellweger recount the story of a wounded Confederate soldier at the end of the Civil War.
Cold Mountain is actually a real location inside Pisgah National Forest, but most of the movie was filmed in Romania because of cheaper production costs. Still, several scenes were filmed in North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina.
Days of Thunder
This 1990 cult classic with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman is a must-watch, and not just because Days of Thunder was filmed in North Carolina!
Racing brings Cole Trickle (Cruise) to North Carolina to race in the Winston Cup and rev engines at Charlotte Motor Speedway. A rivalry friendship between Trickle and Burns (Michael Rooker), results in a love interest with neurosurgeon Dr. Claire Lewicki (Kidman).
Production took place in North Carolina and many of the cars used were provided by Hendrick Motorsports, based in Cabarrus County.
I Know What You Did Last Summer
The opening scene of I Know What You Did Last Summer took place during North Carolina’s Fourth of July Festival in Southport.
That scene may have been filmed in California, but of the film’s remaining scenes were filmed in North Carolina, particularly in Southport. The Cape Fear River and Duke University in Durham even makes an appearance.
This ’90s horror follows a group of friends who seemingly kill a man after running him over. They work to cover up the accident and attempt to move on as if nothing ever happened. One year later, a terrifying hook-carrying character stalks them and uncovers a much deeper story beyond the accident.
Kiss the Girls
Kiss the Girls is the sequel to James Patterson’s Along Came a Spider and is a psychological thriller that follows forensic psychologist Alex Cross (Morgan Freeman). Following a string of kidnappings and murders, Cross races to Durham to find the preparator before it becomes even deadlier.
While the majority of filming took place in Los Angeles, several streets, parks, and homes were used for shooting in both Durham and Chapel Hill. Along with Freeman, this move also stars Ashley Judd.
Maximum Overdrive is one of two Stephen King stories-turned-movies filmed in North Carolina that we’ll mention here. It was adapted from his short story “Trucks” that ended up in Night Shift.
Interestingly, this Emilio Estevez-led effort was the only movie ever directed by the famous author. In this 80s horror-comedy, machines begin attacking humans en masse and protagonist Bill Robinson (Estevez), along with others, fight back.
A few scenes were filmed on location in Wilmington, but Leland served as the background for most of this movie. A truck stop in Leland and Highway 74/76 were mainly used.
Nights in Rodanthe
Probably one of North Carolina’s most famous movies, Nights in Rodanthe is both set and filmed in the namesake Outer Banks village. New Bern resident Nicholas Sparks wrote the novel, which tells a story of a love that develops during a storm.
Diane Lane and Richard Gere whether that storm in an iconic inn that still stands today. Unfortunately, the house was later damaged in a hurricane but was relocated to a safer spot.
Today, the Nights in Rodanthe house can be rented, and some rooms have been remodeled to reenact the movie.
Safe Haven is the 2013 adaptation of another popular Nicholas Sparks novel-turned-movie filmed in North Carolina. This one stars Julianna Hough, Josh Duhamel, and Cobie Smulders.
The story is based in Southport and the majority of filming was completed there, as well as in Wilmington. There are also scenes featuring Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
At the beginning of the film, the main character mysteriously moves from Boston down to the North Carolina coast to make a new life. However, her past catches up to her, leading to quite a few twists and turns in this fantasy thriller.
Before Talladega Nights came out, it might’ve been hard to imagine NASCAR and Will Ferrell being in the same sentence. Today, it’s easy to hear that movie come up in conversations, especially when chatting with racing fans about their all-time favorite movies.
This hilarious film tells the story of a fictional NASCAR driver, Ricky Bobby (Ferrell). Directed by Adam McKay and also featuring John C Reilly as Cal Naughton Jr, Talladega Nights is full of belly laughs and one-liners.
The majority of the film was shot in North Carolina, with the exception of one week in Talladega. Charlotte Motor Speedway was used to film most of the racing sequences. Also, a residence on Lake Norman served as Ricky’s luxurious mansion.
A Walk to Remember
With A Walk to Remember, Nicholas Sparks wins the title of “most film adaptations in this list.” And among them all, this one is Sparks’ most emotional stories.
Starring Shane West and Mandy Moore, the film borrowed many of the sets from the television series Dawson’s Creek as they filmed in Wilmington. However, the story is set in Beaufort.
In A Walk to Remember, young love intertwines with illness in a heartbreaking way. It’s a real tearjerker and worth watching with a box of tissues nearby.
More Movies Filmed in North Carolina (But NOT Set Here)
For a long period of time, North Carolina was the primo destination for movie production. This list includes movies that were filmed in North Carolina but not necessarily set in the state. Some of these movies also included additional production locations outside of North Carolina, but we only listed where filming took place here.
- 28 Days: Asheville, Blue Ridge Circle, and Wilmington.
- The Color Purple: Anson and Union County.
- Dirty Dancing: Lake Lure.
- The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood: Wilmington.
- The Green Mile: Blowing Rock.
- The Fugitive: Bryson City, Dillsboro, and Sylva. See the fun fact below for more about this movie filmed in North Carolina.
- The Hunger Games: Asheville, Barnardsville, Black Mountain, Cedar Mountain, Charlotte, Concord, Dupont State Forest, Hildebran, and Shelby.
- Last of the Mohicans: Asheville, Biltmore Estate, Bridal Veil Falls, Chimney Rock State Park, High Falls, Hooker Falls, Lake James, Linville Falls, and Triple Falls.
- Shallow Hal: Charlotte.
Fun Fact: You may already know the scene in The Fugitive where Harrison Ford barely escapes the train/bus wreck? The remains of that scene can still be found on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. That scene cost $1 million to film and was shot in a single take.
Our Thoughts (and Yours Too!)
After researching and writing this, I came away loving the fact that so many of Hollywood’s biggest names have spent time here making movies. And as we mentioned earlier, there were many more filmed in North Carolina.
Is there one that we need to add to the mix? Let us know so we can have something new to watch next! And out of these movies filmed in North Carolina, which ones do you love most?