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‘The Descendants’ Globes win expected to boost tourism

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Posted: Monday, January 16, 2012 11:45 pm

LIHU‘E — Moviegoers saw a fair amount of the Garden Isle on the silver screen in 2011, but industry experts said Monday the Golden Globe-winning “The Descendants,” filmed partly on Kaua‘i, will boost tourism on the island.

Alexander Payne’s drama “The Descendants” was named Best Picture in the Drama category Sunday at the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards, while its star, George Clooney, snagged a statue for Best Actor in a Drama.

The Hawai‘i-based story inspired by local author Kaui Hart Hemmings’ debut novel was nominated for five Golden Globe awards, including best director (Payne), best screenplay and best supporting actress (Shailene Woodley).

“I thought it was very special that (Payne and producer Jim Burke) acknowledged local culture,” said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kaua‘i Visitors Bureau. “I felt they did a good job portraying it.”

George Clooney portrays Matt King, a land baron who tries to re-connect with his daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident off Waikiki.

King, a descendant of a 19th-century wealthy haole banker and a Hawaiian princess, flies to Kaua‘i to negotiate the sale of his family’s estate.

The cast and crew spent three months filming in Hawai‘i. Kipu Kai, Hanalei Bay, Princeville and Tahiti Nui serve as backdrops for the film.

The release of the film last November marked the fourth film released in 2011 with Kaua‘i in a starring role.

The summer blockbuster “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” starring Johnny Depp, was filmed on the island, as well as  “Just Go With It,” starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, and “Soul Surfer,” about North Shore surfer Bethany Hamilton.

“We knew it would be a banner year having four movies turned out,” Kanoho said. “We have been able to tie the films back to tourism.”

On surveys, the bureau asks visitors if any movie or movies influenced their decision to visit Kaua‘i.

As of October 2011, 21 percent of first-time visitors and 17 percent of repeat visitors said yes, citing the films “Soul Surfer,” “Jurassic Park, “Pirates” and “South Pacific,” Kanoho said.

“The Descendants” was not released nationwide at the time of this survey, but Kanoho said the bureau has already received calls from potential visitors wondering where the scenes were filmed.

The bureau plans to track the film’s effect on tourism through 2012, she said.

The Hawai‘i Tourism Authority expects a 3.8 percent increase in visits during the first three months of 2012, and expects Kaua‘i to see a 25.8 percent jump in visitors.

Roberts Hawai‘i has already added a stop at Tahiti Nui, where Clooney’s character shares a drink with his cousin, played by Beau Bridges, as part of its Kaua‘i Movie Tour. Kipu Ranch Adventures offers a three-hour ATV tour, which includes a stop at the top of the mountain where Clooney ponders his family’s estate.

“We’ve had a few inquiries here and there asking if this was the ranch where the scene was filmed,” said Antone Teves, co-owner of Kipu Ranch Adventures. “There’s not been a huge response, but definitely people are talking about it while they’re here.”

When “Pirates” filmed on the ranch, business picked up a little bit, but then “the excitement dies down,” Teves added.

“Clearly, I think the essence of the movie has really captured people’s hearts,” Kanoho said. “Hawaiian music has been lifted up, as well.”

The all-Hawaiian soundtrack to the “The Descendants” is the No. 1 world album on the Billboard charts. “The Descendants” marks the first mainstream American film featuring all Hawaiian music.

“The Descendants” can be seen through Jan. 26 at Kukui Grove Cinema 4 in Lihu‘e. The film might stay longer if attendance is high, Matt Blair, manager of the theater, said.

“Because it was filmed on the island, it’s being received better than it normally would,” Blair said. “You are getting a lot of people seeing it because of word of mouth. … You will definitely recognize the island.”

For show times, call 245-5055.

• Andrea Frainier, lifestyle writer, can be reached at 245-3681, ext. 257, or afrainier@ thegardenisland.com.

© 2015 Thegardenisland.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • kruzincm posted at 8:19 am on Thu, Jan 19, 2012.

    kruzincm Posts: 1

    I have been travling to you island every 3 years for the last 10 years. I love the people and the island. By no means am I rich or famous. In fact im a avaerage guy from Idaho who stashes every penny I get twards air fare to your lovely island. I even have started to bring my kids with me. They save up during the three years between trips so they can have money to spend on your island. We love it there. That said you do not have to feel ill will twards us,we will never live there.For alot of reasons,cost of living being right up there.
    I have noticed some thing have changed,not for the bad or good,just change. I can understand why locals feel this way twards us,but please understand that we love it there,love the people. And we have respect for the land and the people that live there. Just wanted to say that.

  • UofH1986 posted at 8:24 pm on Wed, Jan 18, 2012.

    UofH1986 Posts: 64

    Tourist population increasing? Hollywood set got wind of Kauai, and are buying multi-million dollar homes and land in numbers.

    There were at least 5-6 high profile actors/actresses on island over the Xmas/New Year holdiays--some who have bought real estate.More to come.

    When the island goes straight down the drain (which it is heading rapidly) due to corruption in the judicial system, and county offices, such as the OPA and Mayor's office, the Rock Stars from Hollywood can easily afford the fortress required built around their priceless real estate.

    Left of Kauai--child molestrs, murderers, thieves, drug dealers and drug victims (people roaming the streets, their spirits having vacated their bodies like the body snatchers left nothing behine but a pod), prostitutes/criminals becoming legal assistants, the Mayor, "movie stars" and body guards.

    The prosecutor, Iseri-Carvalho will be often "away" on golf trips, and some judges often away to "Japan."

    Civil society forced to vacate.

  • John_Brown posted at 9:18 am on Wed, Jan 18, 2012.

    John_Brown Posts: 752

    PS. And like Jeepieboy said, the 'reality dose' people get when they move here make MANY LEAVE in no time flat. Yes, it's paradise, but 'aloha' tends to end at the edge of the parking lot.

    There are no more big family gatherings (unless your family is wealthy), no more attending the endless children's or grandchildren's birthdays, no more real home food delivery (besides Pizza Hut - thus the no 'real' part above), no real 'night-life', and no real anything after the sun goes down. That's a big shock to people.

    Some people can adapt to almost any situation and will not let a lot of the local ugliness 'run them off'. BUT the atmosphere is not conducive to many people relocating here and STAYING here.

  • John_Brown posted at 9:08 am on Wed, Jan 18, 2012.

    John_Brown Posts: 752

    Wow... I'm still getting used to the amazingly low life expectations of some people here. Would I rather be on welfare in Kauai or NY? I'd rather not be on welfare at all (which I've been lucky to have never collected). If these people are on welfare, how would they get here in the first place? So, you're going to sell everything, move to a location that you've seen in a movie, just to live on welfare? Do you know how ridiculous your 'dose' of reality is??! Wow... The facts that many on here are on welfare doesn't make it a 'welfare destination'. LOL. People are on welfare because IT'S TOO EXPENSIVE TO LIVE HERE.

    The rich buy TIME SHARES. They have many homes and when they miss Bobby Joe's bris, they'll realize the REMOTENESS of this island.

    Like I said... Film 100 movies here a year and you MAY get a 1-2% population 'boom'. It will NEVER be enough to build the island into another Oahu. Talk about Chicken Little... Oh, they filmed a movie here! Sky is falling!

  • Jeepieboy posted at 7:26 pm on Tue, Jan 17, 2012.

    Jeepieboy Posts: 355

    Kind of agree and disagree here. There are many transplants who come here because of what they liked when they visited, and as soon as they move here complain that it's not like where they were from, where they had this and that and this and that, and then want to change our Kauai to be what it was like to be like where they moved from to be here. That's annoying.
    And a few just meld into our Kauai, as they are Kauai souls at heart naturally and just add naturally to our ohana and environment. Unfortunately, they seem like the few.
    I just hope people don't come here expecting to visit Kipu Kai - shatter the dream right now and tell them it's private unless you come by boat, swim in, and can visit up to the high tide line.
    In the absence of other viable industries (preferably green industries), we still need tourists. 95% of them love us, and we them. Love 'em even more when we can welcome them, give them a great vacation, then wave aloha!

  • realitydose posted at 4:01 pm on Tue, Jan 17, 2012.

    realitydose Posts: 517

    John_Brown said: "Have you bought a gallon of milk lately at the Big Save? When you're paying $7,"

    John - You are right that the middle class will never pay that, long term. Here's what you're missing. Hawaii, and Kauai, have been pro entitlements for decades. Those who choose to not work can live here with all the food, shelter, clothing and support they need. Food stamps buy milk etc. If you were in that condition where would you live? Kauai, or New York?

    So it will be those guys which we're flooded with already, or the rich. An interesting combination.

    What's the solution? No more roads. No more development on Ag land. Make it more difficult to retire here with no money and a no work attitude. And last but not least, ween the locals off of tourism dependence. It's a formula for disaster with regards to this little, sensitive, beautiful rock in the middle of a very large ocean.

  • kealiahana posted at 3:31 pm on Tue, Jan 17, 2012.

    kealiahana Posts: 289

    Reality ? I agree. However I am all for tourism. I am alos proud when movies are filemed here. But unfortunately the byproduct of this is also transplants moving here. For some on this forum that do not think thre is or will be a population boom, it already happened. Are you telling me the infrastructure work is due to more tourists? Look around open your eyes. I also want to be clear not all transplants are bad and not all locals are good. What I can't tolerate are transplants who proslitize from where they came. Gentrification is not what we need or will solve our problems

  • John_Brown posted at 11:42 am on Tue, Jan 17, 2012.

    John_Brown Posts: 752

    Here's a dose of 'reality' for you... Have you bought a gallon of milk lately at the Big Save? When you're paying $7, the population of this island will never increase that quickly...

    Facts are that the sheer remoteness and cost of this place may bring some people, but will never generate a population 'boom' no matter how many movies you film here.

  • JimW posted at 10:57 am on Tue, Jan 17, 2012.

    JimW Posts: 2

    These tax breaks are desperately needed to attract production to Hawaii. We get it back many times over in LOCAL jobs, tourism promotion, etc. How many people do you think will see the Oscars this year and want to come to Hawaii (and spend money locally)? You can't pay for that kind of advertising. I speak as a 7 year former board member of FAVAH, Film and Video Association of Hawaii. Lingle did her best to take apart film incentives and the Film Office in Hawaii. Now maybe with "The Descendants" these policies can be reversed. These breaks mostly go to smaller productions that wouldn't even happen without them. The Big Hollywood stuff is seen all over the world and drops a LOT of money in the Islands (on which taxes are paid, GET, etc.) Thanks go to Angela Tillson for all she has done to bring production here to Hawaii, and especially Kauai. Congratulations, Angela!

  • Happy Accident posted at 9:42 am on Tue, Jan 17, 2012.

    Happy Accident Posts: 473

    [quote]realitydose said: "We should all be so excited! A movie is filmed on Kauai. It wins award. Tourism doubles. The normal percentage of increased tourist individuals decide to move here. The traffic goes up. Quality of life goes down. Beauty disappears because of road, infrastructure and all kinds of over building. Hollywood leaves to look for greener and more beautiful pastures. How wonderful!"[/quote]

    True. So, what's the solution to this unwanted growth? One which we could reasonably and legally implement? Of course, it’s going to happen with just our own kids without others moving here, but not as fast.

  • Notsoshyguy posted at 9:27 am on Tue, Jan 17, 2012.

    Notsoshyguy Posts: 143

    change your name to "realitydoom" because you have nothing good to say. Tourism is what brings money to the island. The vast majority of people living here rely on tourism either directly or indirectly for their income.

  • realitydose posted at 8:30 am on Tue, Jan 17, 2012.

    realitydose Posts: 517

    We should all be so excited! A movie is filmed on Kauai. It wins award. Tourism doubles. The normal percentage of increased tourist individuals decide to move here. The traffic goes up. Quality of life goes down. Beauty disappears because of road, infrastructure and all kinds of over building. Hollywood leaves to look for greener and more beautiful pastures. How wonderful!


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