By Kristen Moore and Michael Solender
Charlotte’s stealing some of Hollywood’s thunder as a go-to destination in North Carolina for well-known movies and TV productions.
The Queen City boasts hot spots from movies and Emmy®-winning TV shows that can give visitors real experiences at locations from the reel. Whether doubling as a big city, small town or futuristic metropolis, Charlotte has diverse and abundant filming locales. You don’t have to travel to Hollywood to step into a scene from the big screen. Here’s a backstage pass to the feature films and famed TV shows that shine the spotlight on the Queen City.
Shots Fired (TV, 2017 – )
The “who-done-it” FOX drama series, featuring mega-stars Richard Dreyfuss as Arlen Cox and Helen Hunt as Patricia Eamons, filmed extensively in and around Charlotte during the first season, using locations such as the Charlotte Convention Center for backdrops. The cameras were also seen shooting in Mooresville, North Carolina, catching street scenes on Broad Street and West Center Avenue. Other Mooresville locales included Phil’s BP Station and Miles Diner. The show also stages one of its character’s residences in a home in the Cedar Croft neighborhood.
Logan Lucky (Film, 2017)
This heist film is set at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, where a major theft takes place at the track. Crews filmed during the running of the actual Coca-Cola 600. Daniel Craig and Katherine Heigl star alongside Channing Tatum and Hillary Swank.
Sully (Film, 2016)
Charlotte plays a starring role in “Sully,” the film featuring Tom Hanks as Miracle on the Hudson pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. The true story of US Airways Flight 1549, bound to Charlotte from New York City, is legendary. The flight was forced to land on the Hudson River after experiencing multiple bird strikes to its engines upon takeoff. Many of the passengers were Charlotte residents, including Red Ventures CEO Ric Elias. The actual plane seen in the film was shot on-site at its permanent resting place, Charlotte’s Carolinas Aviation Museum.
Vacation (Film, 2015)
This family road trip flick stars Ed Helms as Rusty Griswold and Christina Applegate as Debbie Griswold, who take over where National Lampoon Vacation’s Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo left off in this sequel film to the comedy classic. The U.S. National Whitewater Center plays a starring role as the Griswold family goes for a spin in the Class IV rapids (which double as the Grand Canyon), creating big laughs.
Cinemax’s Banshee (TV, 2013 – 2015)
Charlotte doubles for the Amish community of Banshee, Pennsylvania, in this Cinemax action and crime comedy, starring Antony Starr and Ivana Milicevic. From “True Blood” creator Alan Ball, “Banshee” features Antony Starr as Lucas Hood, an ex-con posing as the sheriff of Banshee. “Banshee” was filmed in and around Charlotte at various locations, including McGee Lumber Company on North Graham Street and Miles Diner in Mooresville, North Carolina. The crime boss' home in the series is a 10,000-square-foot house 24 miles south of Charlotte in Waxhaw.
Showtime’s Homeland (TV, 2011 - 2013)
Showtime’s “Homeland” filmed three seasons in Charlotte. The psychological thriller, starring Claire Danes as Carrie, Damian Lewis as Brody and Mandy Patinkin as Saul, is set in Washington, D.C., but was filmed in Charlotte, as Uptown resembles parts of D.C., and the suburbs have a likeness to northern Virginia. The Brody family’s “northern Virginia” house is in the Mountainbrook neighborhood in South Park near SouthPark Mall, where Brody (Lewis) visited the Apple Store after years of captivity. Freedom Park is featured prominently in the show’s premiere episode. Visitors won’t find any espionage in this lovely city park, however. Full of tennis courts, soccer fields and walking trails, Freedom Park has been called the “Central Park” of Charlotte. Uptown Charlotte makes appearances in the way of The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte’s lobby bar, where Carrie ponders what Brody is hiding; AvidXchange Music Factory, where Brody waited for Carrie at the bar in season one; and the Bank of America Urban Garden, where Brody’s wife, Jessica (played by Morena Baccarin), spoke at an event that Brody did not show up for. Other recognizable Charlotte haunts include Phillips Place, the Specialty Shops SouthPark and The Duke Mansion, which all make cameos.
The Hunger Games (Film, 2012)
Starring as the Capitol of Panem in the first installment of the hit film “The Hunger Games,” Charlotte took center stage in many well-known scenes in the movie. Box office pals Jennifer Lawrence, who played Katniss; Josh Hutcherson, who played Peeta; and Liam Hemsworth, who played Gale, were sighted around the Queen City during filming. The Charlotte Convention Center was the location of a pivotal moment in the film when the underground loading dock served as the platform where Katniss became “the girl on fire.” Just one block from the center, the Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts served as the setting for the memorable tribute interview scene between Katniss and Caesar Flickerman. Local favorite Amélie’s French Bakery offers the same sweets that tempted Haymitch (played by Woody Harrelson), Effie (played by Elizabeth Banks), Peeta and Katniss in the lavish dining car en route to the Capitol. Concord’s vacant Philip Morris facility was fashioned into a sound stage for shooting, and the crew also filmed scenes at the U.S. National Whitewater Center, where Haymitch dined at the River’s Edge Bar & Grill. Set designers bought tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise at The Depot at Gibson Mill Antiques Mall, landing just the right props for the crew to set the scene for the fictional coal mining town.
The Bachelorette Season Eight (Reality TV, 2012)
Season eight of “The Bachelorette” brought 25 suitors to Charlotte to pursue bachelorette Emily Maynard in her hometown. The Queen City snagged a starring role as the setting for the consistently top-rated reality romance and continues to provide opportunities for flirty fun in Charlotte. The bachelors stayed in a fabulous six-bedroom European home in Ballantyne, one of Charlotte’s upscale neighborhoods with top-notch shopping, dining and the luxurious Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge. The Booth Playhouse in Uptown Charlotte offers intimate dance and music performances in the same location that Emily and her many admirers met The Muppets on a group date. Emily and another date attended an outdoor Luke Bryan concert at Trade and Tryon streets, a famous intersection marked by some of the city’s most notable public art sculptures. The former location of Osso at the AvidXchange Music Factory provided a private spot for Emily to dine on her first one-on-one date. The architecturally stunning Mint Museum Uptown features contemporary, American and Craft + Design collections in the same building that Emily and a suitor scaled down during an adrenaline-pumping one-on-one date.
Leatherheads (Film, 2008)
Early American football sports comedy “Leatherheads,” starring George Clooney as Dodge, John Krasinski as Carter and Renee Zellweger as Lexie, featured Charlotte as the backdrop during multiple football game scenes. Portions of the movie were filmed at American Legion Memorial Stadium at Central Piedmont Community College with the Charlotte skyline in the background serving as the 1920 Chicago skyline.
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (Film, 2006)
The 2006 NASCAR spoof filmed many scenes in and around Charlotte, with stars Will Ferrell and John C. Riley enjoying their time here immensely. The crew used the 1.5-mile oval at Charlotte Motor Speedway to double as Texas Motor Speedway, where the story is set. Nearby, Lake Norman’s shores were the site of Ricky Bobby’s dream home. In the movie, Bobby’s No. 2 car can be seen parked outside of the lakefront mansion.
Shallow Hal (Film, 2001)
This romantic comedy, starring Gwyneth Paltrow as Rosemary and Jack Black as Hal, showcased Charlotte in its spring seasonal glory, with dogwoods and azaleas ablaze. The well-known Bank of America Corporate Center starred as the JPS Funds building, where Hal worked with Rosemary’s father Mr. Shanahan (played by Joe Viterelli). And just 20 miles northeast of Charlotte in historic downtown Concord, the exterior of Hotel Concord doubled as Hal’s apartment complex. The picturesque St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on the corner of North Tryon and 7th streets was where Hal asked out the first woman following the spell under which Tony Robbins put him (it made him see women for their inner beauty). The old location for Fuel Pizza on North Tryon Street was where Hal and Rosemary had one of their first dates. They also shared a chocolate milkshake at Pike’s Soda Shop in the South End neighborhood in Charlotte. Freedom Park, known as the “Central Park” of Charlotte, served as a beautiful setting when Hal introduced Rosemary to his friend Mauricio (played by Jason Alexander). And when Rosemary introduced Hal to her parents, she took him to a residential home in the South Park neighborhood in Charlotte. After Mauricio reversed the spell on Hal, they abandoned Rosemary at a restaurant and walked through the Latta Arcade courtyard, Brevard Court. The Capital Grille in Uptown Charlotte was the swanky restaurant where Rosemary saw Hal at dinner with his neighbor Jill.
Days of Thunder (Film, 1990)
Charlotte race fans score big time with this motorsports drama featuring then-power pair Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina, is the track where Cruise’s character, Cole, makes his mark. Rick Hendrick’s real-life Chevrolet dealership, City Chevrolet, also makes a cameo in the film as the sponsor for Cole. And Hendrick Motorsports prepared most of the cars in the movie and later used some of them in real races. The scene where Tim (played by Randy Quaid) approaches Harry (played by Robert Duvall) on a tractor was filmed on NASCAR legend Junior Johnson's former farm off Junior Johnson Highway in the Yadkin Valley.
This article was updated September 2016.