It’s interesting to see the General Assembly tussle with this idea of giving away money to lure the production of the Dirty Dancing remake to the Tar Heel state.
That movie’s a classic by most any definition of the word. Though I’ve never seen the entire movie, my sisters watched it as teenagers, oh, about 1,426,578 times. Each. It evidently won their approval. But not because it was filmed in North Carolina.
It’s hard for a remake to succeed behind a wildly popular original. It can be done, but let’s face it, in this case, the movie really isn’t that old and lots of today’s movie-goers might not be interested in tainting their memories of Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey cutting the rug.
Still that’s not really North Carolina’s concern. The state really doesn’t care if the movie is a box-office smash, because it will have already sunk its money into the project and received whatever economic gain there was to get during production.
The suburban parts of Wake County aren’t likely to see any real impact from the filming of any movie, much less one set in the mountainous western part of the state like Dirty Dancing. Even if the directors wanted to film in, say, Garner, chances are the local area wouldn’t benefit financially in any great way beyond some possible movie star sightings.
While that’s cool, it doesn’t bring home any bacon.
In 1992, I worked in the small town of Chase City Virginia. The cast and crew of the motion picture Sommersby (you remember that one, don’t you?) came to town for a couple days to shoot a scene in one of the town’s tobacco warehouses (you remember those, don’t you?)
The movie starred Richard Gere and Jody Foster. Foster wasn’t in the scene so she didn’t make the trip. Gere was, so there was a lot of excitement, especially among the ladies who worked in my office. The town shut down one end of Main Street where the filming was to take place. That proved a little pesky, but it wasn’t that big a deal.
When the movie hit theaters, we drove to Petersburg to see it. The warehouse scene lasted all of seven seconds, but it’s the only part of the movie I can remember to be honest. Chase City didn’t see a big bump in its travel and tourism revenues because of the movie. Of that much, I’m sure.
Even in other parts of North Carolina, like Wilmington, where production companies have long set up shop, the financial benefit to the community is relatively small. Still, there’s a lot of allure to filming a real movie right in the town where we live.
So with that, in mind, we offer up a few scenic locales for big-time movie producers to consider. In Garner, portions of Lake Benson Park could be made to look like some of the great grazing pastures of Kentucky for a movie about the latest horse that should have won the Triple Crown, but didn’t.
There wouldn’t be much money for our towns to wallow in because of the movie production, but wouldn’t it be nice if our towns were the apple of the legislature’s eye for just a little while?