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2022 outlook for Wilmington film industry following record-breaking year

Published: Jan. 3, 2022 at 6:13 AM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Wilmington film industry is coming off a record-breaking year.

There are still some final numbers that need to come in, but initial figures show that the film industry in Wilmington generated between $300- $325 million, according to Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission.

When it comes to film in 2022, Griffin said that everything is working in Wilmington’s favor, but that it’s difficult to plan out the year in advance and point to any one project coming in the future.

“Our industry doesn’t really book their stay that far in advance, so it’s not as if we know, you know, we’ve already got companies coming in March and June and August of next year,” Griffin said. “They usually happen very quickly with a very short lead time, but what we do know is that everything is sort of lined up to work in our favor right now.”

In years past, Griffin said that there have been “bumps in the road” like a transgender bathroom ban that drove away new productions, hurricanes, and issues with the incentive.

Right now, however, leaders in the area believe they can build off 2021 — given that everything is lined up for more industry success. The bathroom bill, HB2, is now overturned and big incentives are back on the table.

“Film has been here for 35, 40 years in Wilmington and we’ve seen a lot of ups and downs with it through the years. In recent years I think some people have looked at film in Wilmington and kind of thought, ‘well maybe that was a thing of the past and maybe we’re just never really going to get film back like we have in the past,’” Griffin said. “I think this year having the biggest year in history coming off of covid shows what our potential is going forward.”

Also playing in Wilmington’s favor is the fact that there were lots of projects and companies filming in the area over the past year. Griffin said the best marketing and exposure is “to actually have your clients promoting you.” And that’s something they had real success with in 2021.

“We market the region and we work to get productions here and we can tell folks about it, but what works better than anything is to actually have projects here where the industry starts to talk about it themselves,” he said. “A lot of unique different projects this year [2021] leading us into 2022 which we think will be another great year.”

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