Universal Pictures’ Pharrell Williams Project to Film in Virginia

Press release from Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s office….

Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced that an upcoming untitled Pharrell Williams feature film from Universal Pictures will film throughout Central and Coastal Virginia this spring and summer.

The coming-of-age musical is set in Virginia Beach in the summer of 1977, and inspired by Atlantis Apartments, Williams’ childhood neighborhood. Kelvin Harrison Jr. (Waves, Chevalier) is set to star, with Michel Gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep) directing the project based on a script by Martin Hynes (Toy Story 4, The Magician’s Elephant) and Steven Levenson (Tick, Tick…Boom!, FOSSE/VERDON).

Pharrell Williams and Mimi Valdés will produce through i am OTHER, and Gil Netter (Just Mercy, The Blind Side) will produce through Gil Netter Productions.

“This high-profile project will place a global spotlight on Virginia as both an incomparable place to visit and as a preferred destination for investment from this growing industry,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “The project will provide high-wage jobs, help retain our trained production workforce, and deliver an immediate economic impact shared across a variety of sectors, from construction to hospitality. We warmly welcome Pharrell and the team behind this groundbreaking project to Virginia.”

“Tourism is a $30 billion per year industry in Virginia, and with this project, we are not only building our competitiveness in a high-growth sector, but we are also putting Virginia in a starring role in a feature-length, visual love letter to the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick. “This film puts our iconic landmarks, landscapes, arts, and culture offerings on display, and shares what makes Virginia such a special place to visit, live, work, and raise a family – to an audience of millions.”

“Pharrell has been one of Virginia Beach’s biggest supporters and we are thankful for the time and resources he has poured into our city,” said Director of Virginia Beach Convention & Bureau Director Nancy Helman. “We share the excitement of other state leaders and look forward to seeing the success of Pharrell’s latest project.”

“Pharrell is more than a globally recognized artist; he is an inspirational person. Pharrell germinates and nurtures ideas, and then delivers results that have a positive impact on people’s lives. With this project, he is creating a celebration of art, dreams, community, and his Virginia home that will be shared for years to come,” said Andy Edmunds, Director of the Virginia Film Office. “It’s an opportunity that is unparalleled for both our production industry and our powerful tourism sector alike. We are honored to help bring the jobs, investment, and buzz that this project will generate home to Virginia where it belongs.”

This project marks another major production choosing Virginia, following recently filmed projects including seasons one and two of the Apple TV+ series Swagger, filmed in Central Virginia and Hampton Roads, and the critically acclaimed series Dopesick, filmed in Central Virginia and Clifton Forge.

The film will be eligible to receive a Virginia film tax credit or grant. The exact amount will be based on the number of Virginia workers hired, Virginia goods and services purchased, and deliverables including Virginia tourism promotions.

The Virginia Film Office is part of the Virginia Tourism Corporation, the state agency charged with marketing the state of Virginia. Tourism is an instant revenue generator in Virginia. In 2022, visitors spent $30.3 billion across all communities, supporting 210,721 jobs and contributing $2.2 billion in state and local taxes.

For information about Virginia’s film production industry, please visit the Virginia Film Office website at filmvirginia.org.

For information about Virginia tourism, please visit virginia.org.

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