Department of Tourism
Hollywood Boosts Kentucky Economy
As the Hollywood film Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story hit the home DVD/video market last week, state and local tourism officials in Kentucky said the movie is having a positive impact on travel to the areas where the uplifting horse-racing story was set and partially filmed.
As might be expected, the Lexington Convention & Visitors Bureau has experienced an increase in requests for information about the locations in Central Kentucky where the film was shot.
Coming on the heels of the February release to the home market of Elizabethtown, another film set and partially shot recently in Kentucky, Dreamer is demonstrating the symbiotic relationship between movies and tourism, said Randy Fiveash, Kentucky Tourism Commissioner.
“The film business is extraordinarily important not only from the standpoint of money spent here by film production companies, said Fiveash. “It showcases the state and its beauty and diversity. Every time a film is made here it’s like a moving billboard for the state.”
Dreamer, which closed in theaters on Dec. 30, 2005 with a U.S. box office take of $32.7 million, has prompted the Lexington CVB to provide curious visitors with a map of film locations dubbed the “Dreamer Driving Tour.” The guide, available for download from the bureau’s website, includes detailed information on such landmarks as Keeneland Race Course, Ashford Stud Farm, Donamire Farm, the Kesmarc equine hospital and many other locales familiar to area residents.
“About 678 people have downloaded the map since last October when the film was released,” said Meredith Moody, Vice President of research/marketing for the Lexington CVB. “We also have run out of the 250 maps we had printed.”
The driving tour directs travelers to sites in Fayette, Woodford, Franklin and surrounding counties that figure prominently in the film, which stars Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell and Kris Kristofferson.
Elizabethtown, which closed in U.S. theaters Dec. 16, 2005 with a domestic box office total of $26.8 million, has prompted a similar interest in the Louisville-Elizabethtown area, as well as locations in Oldham, Woodford and Fayette counties where it was primarily filmed, said Todd Cassidy, Director of the Kentucky Film Office, an agency of the Tourism Department.
“I’ve received several phone calls from couples who wanted to know the location of the stone wall where Orlando Bloom and Kirsten Dunst sat overlooking the Ohio River,” said Cassidy, who helped scout locations for the film directed by Cameron Crowe. (The wall, which was prominently displayed in publicity posters for the romantic comedy-drama, is behind the lodge in Otter Creek Park in southwestern Jefferson County.)
Sherry Murphy, Director of the Elizabethtown Convention & Visitors Bureau, said although the crew shot in the city only three days, the internationally distributed film amounted to invaluable advertising for the area. “To have your community’s name as the title of a film distributed worldwide is something you don’t complain about,” she said.
Economic impact of film production in Kentucky is also felt directly in the form of expenditures for locally based crew, hotels, restaurants and stores, Cassidy noted. He said on average a Hollywood movie crew spends about $1 million a week while filming here. Dreamer and Elizabethtown each filmed about three weeks in Kentucky, he said.
Momentum is building for Kentucky to adopt more incentives to lure film production to the commonwealth and compete more aggressively with states like North Carolina that provide sales tax exemptions and other generous tax benefits to out-of-state filmmakers. Currently, the only incentive Kentucky provides film producers is a sales tax refund, Cassidy said.
Fiveash said the Tourism Department has commissioned a national consulting firm to quantify more precisely the economic impact of film production in Kentucky.
Inquiries about film projects in Kentucky may be directed to Todd Cassidy, Director of the Kentucky Film Office.