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Hollywood is back in Alabama with filming of new Matthew McConaughey movie in Birmingham


Lights, cameras, action! Hollywood is back in Alabama.

The Alabama Film Index logs a long history of movies filmed statewide. The first is a war drama from 1949 titled "Twelve O'Clock High."

Among the movies listed, major box office films such as Jordan Peele's "Get Out," "42," "Failure to Launch" and "Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood" have also been filmed in Alabama.

Most recently, "Jesus Revolution" completed filming in the Yellowhammer State. The movie was directed by Alabama natives, the Erwin Brothers and follows the real-life events of George Laurie as he, Lonnie Frisbee and Chuck Smith take part in the Jesus Revolution of the late 1960s in California.

Brian Jones, the locations coordinator for the Alabama Film Office, said the movie was primarily filmed in Alabama despite being set in California.

"Since this one is a true story, it is based in a particular area of Southern California. So, what they did was, they filmed in Alabama for four weeks, and then they filmed in California for four days," Jones explained.

The movie was also a success at the box office. It grossed $50 million with only a budget of $15 million.

The latest movie being filmed in Alabama is "The Rivals of The Amizah King." The film stars Oscar-winning actor Matthew McConaughey. He’s the lead role in the crime thriller put on by the independent studio Black Bear Pictures. Casting calls for background extras across Alabama opened up in April.

Jessica Moody, the director of programs and operations for Create Birmingham and Film Birmingham, said her department has been working with the crew for a long time.

"We have been working with them for several months. They started actually scouting, looking at locations in Birmingham sometime in 2022," she said. "When they knew that they had decided to film in Birmingham, we helped connect them with some housing, some local crew. We helped get them their production office, and we are their first point of contact,” she explained.

Little is known about the movie's plot except that it is set in Oklahoma. While it does not take place in Alabama, several locations in and around Birmingham will be used for filming during June and July.

This isn’t the actor’s first visit to Alabama. McConaughey filmed scenes for 2006′s “Failure to Launch” in Cherokee and Etowah counties.

Moody said filming in Alabama, specifically in and around Birmingham, is becoming more popular. "We are seeing a higher caliber of films come through. And it is because people have filmed here have fallen in love with it, and they have brought something back," she said.

Brian Jones, the locations coordinator for the Alabama Film Office, echoes that sentiment. He said movies coming to Alabama are essential to helping the state's economy.

"The way I would describe a movie, or a TV production, is kind of like a temporary factory. It is like a factory that comes in and operates for about three or four weeks," he said. "It provides jobs for the local economy, so it is exciting, and it is cool, and it also works in a publicity value for an area. But even more importantly than that, is the direct economic impact that it puts into an area with the local people that they hire, and the money that they spend at local businesses."

With a big name like McConaughey in Alabama, some are using his visit to promote safety and to get drivers to slow down on the road.

The Harpersville Police Department posted on Facebook: “We are aware that Matthew McConaughey is in the Birmingham metro area filming a movie. We have discussed it, and while we are empathetic to the plight of you wanting to meet him before he leaves, Harpersville Police officers are NOT taking his short presence in Alabama as an excuse for speeding. It was a tough call, but …the law being the law and all… We wish you happy and safe @officiallymcconaughey stalking.”

Andrea Tinker is a student intern at Alabama Public Radio. She is majoring in News Media with a minor in African American Studies at The University of Alabama. In her free time, Andrea loves to listen to all types of music, spending time with family, and reading about anything pop culture related.

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