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On Location: 'Iron Man 3' lands in North Carolina

October 28, 2011 |  7:17 pm


In a blow to Los Angeles' below-the-line community, Marvel Studios will take its next "Iron Man" movie to Wilmington, N.C.

After weeks of speculation about where the movie would land, EUE/Screen Gems co-owner and Chief Operating Officer Chris Cooney confirmed Thursday that Manhattan Beach-based Marvel will shoot its next "Iron Man" movie at his studio in North Carolina.

“We aggressively pursued this piece of business,” Cooney said at a press conference held at the studio. “We negotiated hard and it paid off.”

Marvel also had been considering Michigan, but uncertainty surrounding the future of that state's tax credit took it out of the running.  Marvel executives also weighed filming in Los Angeles -- where the first two films in the superhero franchise were shot -- and New Mexico, but executives were ultimately wooed by North Carolina’s 25% film tax credit, in addition to the large Wilmington studio. California offers a film credit of up to 25% but it excludes big-budget movies like "Iron Man 3."

“We have a massive film facility and the third-largest film and television based crew in the country,” EUE/Screen Gems Executive President Bill Vassar said.

Vassar also noted that EUE/Screen Gem’s relationship with Disney, which bought Marvel Studios in 2009, played an instrumental role in getting Marvel executives to consider the Wilmington studio for filming. EUE/Screen Gems, which owns additional studios in Manhattan and Atlanta, also operates a lighting and grip company in Charleston, S.C., that has worked with Disney on several projects including the ABC pilot “Revenge" and four seasons of the television series “Army Wives."

“We’ve been under Disney’s radar for a long time,” Vassar said. “We have a wonderful relationship with them.”

“Iron Man 3,” scheduled for a 2013 release with a budget estimated at more than $140 million, will be the largest film to shoot in North Carolina so far. Offices will open in early January and cameras are expected to start rolling in the spring, Vassar said.

Most of the production, expected to last about 10 months, will take place in the state. Marvel will use all 10 of EUE/Screen Gem’s stages, the largest of which is 37,5000 square feet and includes a special-effects water tank, over the course of production.

At the press conference, North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue predicted an economic windfall for the state. The movie is expected to create 550 jobs for crew members and crafts people and pump $80 million into North Carolina's economy, Perdue said.

Representatives of Marvel were unavailable for comment.


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-- Dima Alzayat

Photo: EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington, N.C. Credit: EUE/Screen Gems.