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10 Movies Filmed In North Carolina (and Set Here, Too!)

Published by Christina Riley. Last Updated on April 22, 2024.

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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!

Read More: TV shows filmed in North Carolina

Movies Filmed in North Carolina (and Set Here, Too!)

Note: For movies made from books, links will take to you Indiebound, a site that connects users with the closest local bookstore (support local!) that offers each title.

Bull Durham

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.

Read More: The Best Day Trips from Durham

Cold Mountain

Based on the 1997 bestselling novel by Charles Frazier, Cold Mountain stars Jude Law, Nicole Kidman, and Renee Zellweger recountsthe 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.

Read More: Blue Ridge Parkway Stops

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.

Read More: The Best Day Trips from Charlotte

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.  

Read More: Interesting Facts about North Carolina

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 movie also stars Ashley Judd.

Read More: The Best Day Trips from Raleigh

Maximum Overdrive

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. It’s written by New Bern resident Nicholas Sparks and tells the 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.

If you can’t get into the Nights in Rodanthe house, there are other amazing Outer Banks vacation rentals worth checking out.

Read More: Outer Banks Towns

Safe Haven

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 the Linn Cove Viaduct on the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of our favorite parts of that scenic road.

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.

Read More: The Best NC Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes

Talladega Nights

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.

Read More: Lake Norman State Park History + 8 Great Things to Do!

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.

Read More: 100+ Awesome Places to Visit in Eastern North Carolina

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.

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.  

Read More: 10+ Great Things to Do in Chimney Rock Village (and Nearby)

Ready to Binge watch these Movies Filmed in North Carolina?

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?

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19 thoughts on “10 Movies Filmed In North Carolina (and Set Here, Too!)”

  1. Brainstorm was filmed in RTP. It starred Christopher Walker and Natalie Wood and was in the midst of production when she tragically died.

    • Wow, thank you, Susan! Reading about Brainstorm leads to the whole controversy about her death, which seems like still has some unresolved details. I appreciate you sharing.

  2. The Private Eyes 1980 Conway & Knotts filmed at Biltmore House.
    You forgot The Taking of Deborah Logan
    You forgot the World Made Straight and A Good Baby.

  3. The beach scenes in Sleeping With The Enemy were filmed in Wrightsville Beach and Iron Man 3 was filmed in and around Southport and Wilmington

  4. The Handmaid’s Tale (the 1990 movie, NOT the much superior Hulu series) with Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, & Robert Duvall, was filmed mostly in Durham & other parts of the Triangle, as well as the NC mountains. Duke Chapel prominently featured!

  5. Don’t forget (The Dome)filmed in South Port, NC
    (Where the crawdads sing,,, )and
    (Message in a Bottle,,,)
    Patrick Swayze, in (Black Dog)
    I found all of this out due to looking for the movie that’s being filmed on Pilot Mountain State Park January 2024

  6. A Walk in the Woods (2015) starring Robert Redford, Nick Nolte and Emma Thompson was filmed at Fontana Dam (near Bryson City, NC)


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