'Iron Man 3' filming creates media frenzy, nets $180 million for - WNCN: News, Weather

'Iron Man 3' filming creates media frenzy, nets $180 million for NC

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Fans parading outside the Epic Games in Cary caught a glimpse of a possibly spoiler-ish sign, indicating the game studio would be used as the backdrop for Advanced Idea Mechanics. Fans parading outside the Epic Games in Cary caught a glimpse of a possibly spoiler-ish sign, indicating the game studio would be used as the backdrop for Advanced Idea Mechanics.
Don Cheadle, who plays U.S. Air Force pilot James "Rhodey" Rhodes (a.k.a. War Machine) in "Iron Man 3," was seen grabbing lunch outside Epic Games studio off Crossroads Blvd. in Cary. Don Cheadle, who plays U.S. Air Force pilot James "Rhodey" Rhodes (a.k.a. War Machine) in "Iron Man 3," was seen grabbing lunch outside Epic Games studio off Crossroads Blvd. in Cary.
RALEIGH, N.C. -

It was a heck of a ride, and finally, this Friday, we'll get to see the product of Iron Man's takeover of North Carolina.

Already breaking international records, Marvel's "Iron Man 3" is set to open in the U.S. theaters Friday, with several theaters giving audiences an early peak of what is sure to be one of the summer's biggest blockbusters. 

The third film in the highly successful series and the first to follow-up Marvel's record-smashing "The Avengers," "Iron Man 3" pits industrialist Tony Stark "against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds."

"When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy's hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible," the film's official synopsis reveals. "This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him.

"As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?"

Of course, reaching that synopsis comes after a year of filming throughout North Carolina. 

Rumors of "Iron Man 3" coming to the Old North State first began in September 2011, when The Detroit Free Press reported that Michigan had not been selected to host the filming, and that North Carolina won the bid for the Marvel Studios blockbuster.

Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville told the Free Press the Michigan Film Office upped its offer to $20 million to match North Carolina's offer, but that North Carolina guaranteed the money.

North Carolina film officials remained mum, offering only that the North Carolina Film Office "cannot comment on any project that [it] may or may not be currently working on."

But then the flood gates opened.

Exactly a month after the rumor made its way into the blog-o-sphere, then-Gov. Bev Perdue announced the "Iron Man 3" production would land in Wilmington; and with it, it would bring more than 1,500 jobs and an estimated $80 million to the state.

A news release said North Carolina had worked for six months to secure the deal, and the state's 25 percent film incentive played a key role in the state landing the blockbuster. "I pushed hard to get the revamped film incentive passed, with the help of a number of lawmakers, and now we see that initiative doing exactly what it was designed to do," Perdue explained.

In addition to filming in Wilmington, Aaron Syrett, director of the North Carolina Film Office, said the film would make its way to other sites across the state; which consequently caused a flurry of excitement and speculation.

In anticipation of the filming, in November 2011, Wilmington-based Premier Casting announced that it was "gearing up for productions that are coming to town" and is looking for people of "all ages, all shapes and sizes, all ethnicity, kids adults, males and females."

The agency was quick to explain that "no one, or company, has yet been hired to handle the background for 'Iron Man 3,'" but Premier Casting was "looking to "fill our database with as many people as possible."

It wasn't until April 2012, however, that the first casting call was announced for Raleigh.

A Facebook page for a film called "Caged Heat" posted a casting call from Tona B. Dahlquist Casting Company. The call sheet, which was for the "Major Motion Picture 'CAGED HEAT,'" indicated that the casting company was looking for extras of "all types, all ages and all ethnic descents."

With "Caged Heat" as a thin veil of a working title for "Iron Man 3," thousands answered the casting call at Crabtree Valley Mall, and thousands more responded to a casting call a week later in Wilmington. It was clear -- a little more than a month out from principle shoots, North Carolina was excited for Iron Man's landing.

Just as titular star Robert Downey Jr. touched down in the Port City, the first rumors of filming in the Triangle began spreading as employees at SAS Institute in Cary hinted on social media that filming would take place at the software company. Little did anyone know at the time, SAS would be used for some of the interior shots of Stark Industries -- somewhat fittingly, Tony Stark's namesake tech company.

Early June was really when the Triangle unofficially became an offshoot of Hollywood. On June 4, the stars and crew of "Iron Man 3" attracted crowds of fans to the sidewalks of Crossroads Blvd. in Cary while filming took place inside Epic Games studios.

The game studio served as the backdrop for Advanced Idea Mechanics, a fictionalized terrorist organization in the Marvel universe founded by Aldrich Killian, played in "Iron Man 3" by Guy Pearce. Although Pearce was elusive while filming took place at Epic, Don Cheadle, who plays U.S. Air Force pilot James "Rhodey" Rhodes (a.k.a. War Machine), was spotted grabbing lunch on the second day of the shoot.

Later that evening, actress Gwyneth Paltrow tweeted that she had "Just arrived in Raleigh, N.C. to start Ironman [sic] 3!" Along with the statement, she asked for restaurant recommendations in the City of Oaks, for which she decided on Ashley Christensen's award-winning Poole's Diner in downtown Raleigh.

In all three "Iron Man" films, Paltrow plays Pepper Potts, Tony Stark's assistant and love interest.

While Cheadle was the only star caught on camera at Epic, WNCN anchor Penn Holderness says he saw actor Guy Pearce at the Umstead Hotel & Spa, a hotel owned by SAS Institute co-founder Jim Goodnight.

As filming took place in and around Cary, two hours to the east construction was taking place at the National Gypsum on Sunnyvale Drive in Wilmington. Construction at the site hinted at an Asian architectural theme, keeping in line with Sir Ben Kingsley's casting as the villain The Mandarin.

Back in the Triangle, filming wrapped after moving to the Research Triangle Foundation, giving way to a Robert Downey Jr. spotting and the closing of a week of paparazzi journalism by local news outlets.

Perhaps one of the more exciting pieces of the "Iron Man" film captured on camera was a stunt that was photographed by Wilmington NBC affiliate WECT. The clip shows actors dangling from a crane; and in one of the film's first trailers, it was revealed that scene with the crane involved Iron Man rescuing people as they are sucked out of Air Force One.

In the end, the Motion Picture Association of America attributed $180 million and 2,000 jobs in North Carolina to the "Iron Man 3" filming. The production created the equivalent of 102 full-time jobs for every $1 million of the film's $20 million tax credit. About 27 percent of labor spending went toward in-state hires.

The MPAA also noted 719 state vendors across 84 communities were involved with filming.

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"Iron Man 3" follows not just "Iron Man 2" but the box-office busting "The Avengers," in which Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, joined forces with other superheros. More>>

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