HOPEWELL, Va. — Virginia is making the cut when it comes to TV and film projects. AMC started work on a new spin off of the hit show “The Walking Dead,” called “Monument,” in the Tri-Cities this week.
Just before lunchtime Friday, production crews were hauling part of a 737 fuselage for a plane crash scene that will be filmed right in the middle of Hopewell Street. Moving the massive set piece literally stopped traffic.
“I took a picture right away and put it on Facebook, I told everybody to come down and see the movie props and grab a hot dog,” Mary Sue Krout, the owner of Hopewell Quick Lunch, said.
The diner is already seeing more visitors, especially from the film crew. It’s exciting for Krout. The 92-year-old restaurant has stood the test of time, and can probably handle a few zombies.
“We had six people come in this morning that are working on the movie that came in for breakfast,” she said. “So, that’s a plus for us. They said they’d be back.”
Hopewell Street is closed for the production team from July 30 to Aug. 15, from East Poythress and East Cawson. This a few steps away from Krout’s restaurant.
Filming will be happening overnight on Aug. 7, 8 and 13. Other roads around the area will be closed as well. “The Walking Dead” fan Pete Perry drove down from Washington, D.C. to see what was going on.
“I could never get down to Georgia to watch the original show during filming,” he said. “So, as soon as I found out there’s a show within striking distance I wanted to check it out for myself.”
With so many visitors, the Virginia Film Office Director Andy Edmunds says projects like these help boost local businesses.
“Everything from renting helicopters to buying paperclips, they’re really like super tourists with a payroll,” Edmunds said.
AMC’s productions have come to Virginia before. Besides the work being done in Hopewell right now, there are two other projects in Central Virginia going on. One is a CBS pilot called “Swagger,” about basketball star Kevin Durant. The other is “The Good Lord Bird,” based on a book about abolitionist John Brown.
“These three projects alone that have touched central Virginia will leave over a $100 million in the Virginia economy in about nine months,” Edmunds said. “This is the impact this industry has in the Commonwealth.”
There is about $9.5 million set aside by the General Assembly to attract film and TV production companies to come to Virginia. Because so many projects have come to the Commonwealth recently, Edmunds says the current projects have used up all available resources.
“Should the Commonwealth choose to increase the pool, we have a unique opportunity to expand on recent growth,” he added.
Virginia is competing with other states, Edmunds says, like Georgia, North Carolina and Kentucky to get a piece of the film and production industry. For example, Edmunds says Kentucky offers $100 million in incentives for film projects.