A ten hour drive from Orlando is a tiny little town called Southport, N.C. You most likely have never heard of it but you have seen it more than you know. Southport is one of the most "used" sets in Screen Gems Studio's arsenal. Remember the adorable sea side town in SAFE HAVEN? That's Southport. The small town was the setting for parts of most of the Matlock television programs. Matlock's house is on a quiet street near the library there. Andy Griffith was often seen about town when filming. Recently, Under the Dome, a CBS summer replacement program based on a book by Stephen King, has been filming in the sleepy little town. The locals watch weekly to see if they recognize a church, Masonic Hall, local eating establishment or home. These aren't the only recognizable programs you can find. Robert Downey Jr was here this past summer filming his Iron Man 3 movie. Among the other films made here have been Crimes of the Heart, Summer Catch, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Weekend at Bernie's, and Mary and Martha. Just up the road a few miles is the site where the carnival was filmed in Meet the Millers. Remember Drew Barymore's movie Fire Starter? Yep, it was made a few miles from here.
Screen Gems Studio is located in Wilmington, N.C.(sometimes called Wilmywood by locals), a town just 30 miles north of Southport. On any given day you will find yellow or orange cards on stakes along the roadways from Wilmington to nearby towns pointing the way for extras and other film members to find what is on that day's shooting schedule.
Stars come out at night and in the day in this area of southeastern North Carolina. It isn't a shock to see John Travolta sneeking into a movie theater or Bruce Willis having lunch at a local restaurant. They seem to like the off handed way they are regarded here. Good old Southern hospitality and acceptance seems to welcome the "famous" as a friend and only the tourists seem to be star struck. Those who work in the movies here repeatedly like that they can feel at home in the local shops and restaurants and bars.
Great shows and movies are being made in this area and Hollywood is on notice that there are going to be more every season.