WILMINGTON — As the 2022 year winds down, the local film industry is still gaining steam.
Another project has begun rolling in town, while a major motion picture has been approved for a rebate up to $5.75 million, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, which oversees the North Carolina Film and Entertainment Grant.
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Produced by Temple Hill Entertainment and Searchlight Pictures, “The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat” has a $23-million budget and stars Uzo Aduba, Sanaa Lathan and Aunjanue Ellis, all of whom play best friends dubbed “The Supremes.”
Based on the 2013 New York Times best-selling novel by Chicago writer Edward Kelsey Moore and directed by Tina Mabry (“Mississippi Damned,” “Pose”), the period piece moves from the 1960s through the 1990s. It follows Odette, Clarice and Barbara Jean, who meet every week at an Indiana diner. The movie follows their trials and triumphs as teenagers into adulthood, through each turn of their years-long bond.
New additions have been announced to the cast recently. Entertainment trade magazines have noted the incorporation of talent from Russel Hornsby (“Fences), Mekhi Phifer (“Divergent”), (Kyanna Simone (“American Horror Stories”), Tati Gabrielle (“You”), Abigail Achiri (“The Underground Railroad”), Julian McMahon (“Nip/Tuck”), and Vondie Curtis-Hall (“Blue Bayou”). Tony Winters (“National Champions”) will portray Big Earl.
“We are excited to have these new projects creating economic wins for the communities in which they are filming, the crew and talent they are employing, and the local businesses from which they are making their purchases,” North Carolina Film Office director Guy Gaster said in a press release.
According to Wilmington Film Commission director Johnny Griffin, he estimates upward of 200 crew are working on “The Supremes.” They have been set up across town since last month, at an historic home between 7th and 8th on Market Street, to its prime location along 5th Avenue and Castle Street.
Rx Chicken and Oysters at 421 Castle St. has been transformed into Earl’s diner. The building is a relic of mid-20th century charm, currently owned by Rx chef James Doss and his wife, Sarah. Formerly white-and-black — and designed with Sarah’s signature murals — the restaurant has been covered with light blue and navy paint, plastered with cursive signage of yesteryear: “Earl’s,” “No Finer Diner,” and “All You Can Eat.”
At the back, Rx’s covered patio has been dressed like the window of a ladies boutique, with mannequins donning clothing from the era.
The Dosses announced the restaurant would be closed until December, as cameras are expected to roll through mid-November.
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The greater Wilmington area has received over $200 million in production expenditures this year, according to Griffin. He presented the number to city council last month, noting it enveloped projects that have wrapped, are currently rolling and are possibly slated to come to the area by the end of 2022.
Films “Problem with Providence” and “Eric LaRue,” as well as shows like “George and Tammy” and Starz’s season three of “Hightown,” concluded earlier in the year. Fox’s season two of “Welcome To Flatch” (now airing) and Amazon’s season three of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” have had cameras rolling this October as well.
Two weeks ago, another production, dubbed “Untitled Band Project,” set up in town. It’s headed by Jonas Pate, the creator behind Netflix’s popular streaming series “Outer Banks” (season three will drop in 2023). Pate declined to chat with Port City Daily about the project at this time since it’s so early in its inception.
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Kimmie Stewart Casting has been calling for teenagers thus far to help fill extra roles for scenes described as: “band sets up instruments and a stage to play music for graduation party.” There is no official word on the plotline for “Untitled Band Project” or whether the pilot will be greenlit.
It is slated to wrap filming by Nov. 7 and so far, according to city permits, has utilized locations such as downtown’s Crust restaurant, New Hanover High School, and along 6th between Dock and Orange streets.
As to whether more projects could be opening production offices in town before the end of the year, Griffin revealed “possibly, but no confirmations” have come in yet.
Though 2022 isn’t proving as financially lucrative as 2021 — which received a record-breaking $300-plus million from film production spending — Griffin told Port City Daily it’s still ”another great year, probably in the top 10 all time, probably higher.”
He expects the momentum to continue into 2023 as well, he added.
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