Tourism

Myrtle Beach officials say they don’t expect ‘Magic Mike XXL’ to impact city’s image, tourism

The stars of "Magic Mike XXL" cruise Ocean Boulevard in a Rolls Royce on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. The actors are Matt Bomer (in the back seat), Kevin Nash (in the middle of the backseat), Adam Rodriguez (behind the driver), Joe Manganiello (driving the car) and Channing Tatum (in the front passenger seat).
The stars of "Magic Mike XXL" cruise Ocean Boulevard in a Rolls Royce on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014. The actors are Matt Bomer (in the back seat), Kevin Nash (in the middle of the backseat), Adam Rodriguez (behind the driver), Joe Manganiello (driving the car) and Channing Tatum (in the front passenger seat). jblackmon@thesunnews.com

You might have heard the opening line from Joe Manganiello in the commercial for the movie “Magic Mike XXL” -- “Tomorrow, we start the pilgrimage to Myrtle Beach for the convention.”

Myrtle Beach City Councilwoman Susan Grissom Means said she thought the exposure for the city was a good thing.

“Any time that Myrtle Beach is mentioned it’s a good thing,” she said. “We pay a lot of money for that. To have it happen for free is great.”

And that first mention comes within the first five minutes of the movie, with Manganiello’s line from the commercial. Myrtle Beach is mentioned throughout the film and the last 30 minutes are “set” in Myrtle Beach, though “convention” scenes were filmed in Savannah.

Crews with the movie, which is about a road trip from Tampa to Myrtle Beach for a stripper convention, spent two days in Myrtle Beach filming aerial shots and other scenes for the film. Manganiello, Tatum and fellow cast members Matt Bomer, Adam Rodriguez and others also made an appearance in Myrtle Beach Nov. 4 to film a few scenes.

“Magic Mike XXL” will hit theaters Wednesday.

“And [Channing Tatum] is in this one, too?” Means said. “He’s fun to look at.”

But Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Brad Dean said it’s difficult to say if that focus on Myrtle Beach will translate into more visitors.

“I don’t think we know on this one,” he said. “The publicity impact of a feature film is hard to predict. ... It’s going to depend on how the community itself is portrayed, the social media buzz around the film and the paid publicity around [the movie].”

Councilman Wayne Gray also said he didn’t think the movie would drive tourists to town.

“I don’t think because someone is watching a movie and they say, ‘we’re going to Myrtle Beach,’ it’s going to make them want to visit,” he said. “People are watching the movie for the movie.”

Dean also said any bump in tourism depends on how central the location is to the film.

“If the community is only a backdrop and the storyline can happen anywhere it’s different than if the location drives the [storyline],” he said. “Also, one of the things – which has grown with social media – is that viewers themselves contribute to the success of the film. Depending on what the audience thinks and what they’re saying can either push or crush the hype around the film.”

“Obviously the image and publicity around this is not perfectly aligned with the family beach [image] of Myrtle Beach,” Dean said. “But I don’t anticipate the movie to have any negative impact on the image. I also don’t anticipate it to enhance our image of Myrtle Beach.”

It is unclear why Myrtle Beach was chosen as the location for the stripper convention. The film’s screenwriter, Reid Carolin, was not available for an interview.

Myrtle Beach officials said they have no knowledge of stripper conventions being held in Myrtle Beach and know that one has never been held at the convention center. City spokesman Mark Kruea said because the Myrtle Beach Convention Center is not zoned for adult entertainment a convention could be held there as long as there was no adult activity.

A Warner Bros. representative said Myrtle Beach was “simply a good location.”

“This is me guessing,” Kruea said. “The film is based in Florida. They were probably looking to stay in the Southeast. They were probably looking for a coastal town. Myrtle Beach is a destination. So they took a little poetic license.”

Cast members and extras filmed a few scenes at Boardwalk Beach Resort in November: the actors driving up to the hotel in a Rolls Royce, Tatum and other cast members walking from the front of the building toward the pool and inside one of the hotel rooms.

They also filmed downtown Myrtle Beach, where cast members drove down Ocean Boulevard after crews dressed up one of the Ocean Boulevard arcades with July Fourth decorations. Filming also was done at a convenience store and on Sixth Avenue North, in front of Myrtle Beach Fries near Plyler Park and on the Myrtle Beach Boardwalk in front of Iggy’s Italian Ice.

“We’re hoping it will bring a lot of excitement down here,”said Robert Evangelista, who owns Iggy’s with his wife.

Iggy’s also can be seen in the movie trailer as well as in media images for the film.

“I don’t know what it will bring,” he said. “We have to wait and see.”

The movie sequel mostly was filmed on private property in Savannah and Tybee Island, Ga.

Agents cast about 200 extras – mostly local residents – who play characters ranging from tourists to pool party participants.

Crews also were in Myrtle Beach during the Labor Day weekend to film some aerial footage as well as shots at 2nd Avenue Pier and Pier 14 while the beach was busy.

The movie is the latest in a list of projects to be shot along the Grand Strand, including TLC’s “Trailer Park: Welcome to Myrtle Manor,” CMT’s “Party Down South,” Travel Channel’s “Hotel Impossible” and HBO’s “Eastbound and Down.”

Contact MAYA T. PRABHU at 444-1722 or on Twitter @TSN_mprabhu.

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