As the Hollywood film Dreamer: Inspired by a True
Story hits the home DVD/video market, state and local tourism officials in
Kentucky have 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
“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
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,”
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,
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.