Theater in the Tar Heel State: 6 Classic Movies Filmed in North Carolina

Theater in the Tar Heel State: 6 Classic Movies Filmed in North Carolina article feature image

There is no doubt the Tar Heel State has a rich sports history, but did you know North Carolina has played host to a fair share of popular movie sets?

Some critically acclaimed and cult-classic movies have been filmed across the scenic landscapes of the state. Not to mention, a number of popular sports movies as well.

Let’s take a look at some of the cinema that calls North Carolina home.

Drama Movies Filmed in North Carolina

The Green Mile

This Tom Hanks feature covers some pretty deep topics. Whether you focus on the morality of the death penalty or the dangers of a faulty criminal system, or your heart is just warmed by John’s character, there is something for everyone in this movie. Most of it was filmed in Tennessee, but did you know that Georgia Pines is Flat Top Manor in Blowing Rock, N.C.?

Flat Top Manor, Photo from Scenic USA

Georgia Pines is the nursing home where Paul Edgecomb ages, and the setting for the movie’s beginning. This is where Paul details his experiences as a death-row commanding officer at the Cold Mountain Penitentiary.

The Green Mile is critically acclaimed, as it did a clean sweep of every honor it was nominated for at the People’s Choice Awards, including Favorite All-Around Motion Picture and Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture. It was also nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, although it did not win.

North Carolina residents get to claim a piece of this classic!

The Hunger Games

The first Hunger Games movie was shot in North Carolina. Unlike the Green Mile, North Carolinians don’t need to share their claim of the Hunger Games with any other state, because the entire movie was shot in North Carolina. The filming locations included a variety of cities such as Asheville, Barnardsville, Charlotte and Cedar Mountain. 

The Hunger Games was critically acclaimed and won many awards. Josh Hutcherson won Best Male Performance at the MTV Movie Awards for his role as Peeta, and Jennifer Lawrence won Best Female Performance for her role as Katniss. The movie itself won three awards at the People’s Choice Awards, one at the Teens’ Choice Awards, and another at the Kids’ Choice Awards. 

Dirty Dancing

If you are not familiar with this movie, you are at least familiar with a song from it. “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” has become an iconic song, and when you hear it, you can’t help but think of Johnny Castle (Patrick Swayze) hoisting Baby Houseman (Jennifer Grey) into the sky. 

This iconic lift scene was filmed in Lake Lure Inn’s ballroom in North Carolina. This is one of the most memorable scenes in theater, and North Carolina natives get to claim it for themselves.

Lake Lure, Photo from Architectural Digest

Sports Movies Filmed in North Carolina

Talladega Nights

This movie is one of Will Ferrell’s most iconic, and most of it was filmed in North Carolina. The racing sequences were filmed at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, and Lake Norman was the home of Ricky Bobby’s mansion (which was sold last November to real NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick for $6.75 million).

Talladega Nights did not take home any hardware at the People’s Choice Awards or the Oscars, but the movie was named the Choice Summer Movie at the Teen Choice Awards. 

Charlotte Motor Speedway, Photo from Visit NC

Days of Thunder

This is another NASCAR movie that was filmed at Charlotte Motor Speedway, in addition to Daytona Beach, Fla. The movie had a star-studded cast that included Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and John C. Reilly.

Between Days of Thunder and Talladega Nights, Reilly should have invested in a second home in Charlotte!

Bull Durham

This Kevin Costner classic highlights a struggling single-A minor league baseball team named the Durham Bulls. As the title suggests, the movie was filmed in Durham and other locations in North Carolina, including Raleigh, Greensboro, Burlington, Wilson and Asheville. 

North Carolina is a powerhouse for sports, specifically basketball. North Carolina sports betting is coming to the Tar Heel State in 2024.

However, there is much more to this beautiful state than sports, as it has served as a backdrop to some of the most historic movies. Which major movie will be filmed here next?

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