WILMINGTON, N.C. (WNCN) — A North Carolina production studio is undergoing a major expansion.
It’s just one sign that the film and television industry in the state continues to grow and boost the economy.
Movies like Iron Man 3, The Hunger Games and Blue Velvet were filmed in North Carolina, and the production studio wants to make space for even more.
Kirk Englebright, Founder and CEO of Dark Horse Studios, and his team held a groundbreaking Thursday for their new studio expansion in Wilmington.
‘Dark Horse,’ defined on the studio’s wall as “a candidate or competitor about whom little is known, but who unexpectedly wins or succeeds.”
It’s the first built in the city since the early 80’s, and the new expansion will feature smart stage technology which is the first of its kind for North Carolina.
It’s a testament to the state’s booming film industry.
“It’s more opportunity,” Englebright said. “More ways to grow our crew base, more ways to shine a spotlight on North Carolina and Wilmington and more projects to come here.”
Those future projects will also create jobs outside the industry.
“The spinoff business that comes with the film production is important to the economy, and important to a lot of jobs outside of direct employment from these productions,” said North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, who attended the groundbreaking.
When Cooper became governor in 2017, he said he visited Wilmington to learn how the state can help the film industry.
He also repealed previous legislation and repaired the state’s incentive program.
The film industry is also preparing for a big boom in business once the current writer’s strike is over.
“It’s very important as a community and a film family to continue to strive to move forward and focus on positive change and impact, and becoming prepared for the resurgence that occurs after this strike,” said Kristi Ray, co-owner of Wilmington production company Honey Head Films. “We’ve had some of the best years in recent history for film in North Carolina, and we just want to help spread the word that things are alive and kicking.”
“The game plan is just having a presence in Hollywood, put a spotlight on us, and show everyone we’re a force to be reckoned with,” Englebright said.
The new stage is expected to be completed in about 12-14 months.