WILMINGTON — “Along for the Ride” is coming to a couch, bed — or wherever else movies are streamed — near you.
Shot in Wilmington in 2021, the movie will debut on Netflix for users to click play from the comfort of their homes starting Apr. 22. It is one of 86 titles unveiled as part of Netflix’s 2022 feature slate. The streaming giant intends to release 16 more movies this year than it did in 2021; that’s at least one new movie a week.
“Along for the Ride” is the anticipated adaptation of the popular 2009 young adult novel by Sarah Dessen, from Chapel Hill. The feature will bring to the screen the story of Auden and Eli, young insomniacs who embark on night-time adventures as the town of Colby sleeps.
In spring and summer 2021, scouters relied on the backdrop of Pleasure Island to recreate the charming coastal setting of the novel, often shooting at night to follow the plot. It pulled permits to roll cameras at Nauti Dog, the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, Pleasure Island Rentals, Carolina Smokehouse, Havanas, North End Java Stop and Melissa’s Coin Laundry.
Several small businesses transformed into fictional places in the novel, such as Nest Realty, which became Auden’s stepmother’s boutique, Clementine’s.
It also filmed on the mainland, at Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park, Russell’s Quik Stop on Wrightsville Avenue, and the New Hanover County Courthouse.
The film is directed and written by Sofia Alvarez, who also wrote screenplays for the popular “To All the Boys” movie trilogy, and was produced by Bryan Unkeless and Eric Newman. Alyssa Rodrigues, Sian McArthur and Erika Hampson served as executive producers.
Its cast features newcomers in the leading roles: Emma Pasarow as Auden and Belmont Cameli as Eli (some may recognize him from the Peacock’s reboot of “Saved by the Bell”). There’s also a host of veteran actors: Kate Bosworth, playing Auden’s stepmother, who some may recall as the lead surfer girl from “Blue Crush”; Dermot Mulroney, Auden’s father, widely known from “My Best Friend’s Wedding”; and South Carolina native Andie MacDowell (“Groundhog Day,” “Four Weddings and a Funeral”) as Auden’s mother.
Netflix optioned three of Dessen’s titles as part of the “Along for the Ride” deal. It plans to subsequently release movies based on two of her other books, “This Lullaby” and “Once and For All.”
A spokesperson for the streamer said the other adaptations are “still in early days” and she doesn’t have any information to share yet on where or when they will be filmed.
Two other Netflix series wrapped in the city in recent months: “Florida Man” and “Echoes.” At this time, “George and Tammy” is the only production in the area.
However, Johnny Griffin, the director of the Wilmington film office, has indicated the momentum of 2021 — a banner year with $300 million spent by productions locally — is expected to continue into 2022. Even last year, with more than a dozen projects, there was a two-month hiatus in spring without film action.
“Productions begin and end at different times, and sometimes they do not overlap as well as we would like,” Griffin said.
Griffin assured conversations with productions are still happening.
“Vacancies are part of the business,” he added. “We still have available crew, soundstages, and incentives for 2022 which are attracting interest.”
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