Kauai Reaps Production Benefits

By Sue Kanoho, Director, Kauai Visitors Bureau

Film industry work benefits a destination in numerous ways.

These benefits are felt at the point of scouting/pre-production, including renting hotel rooms and production equipment, hiring extras, and more. A movie’s theater release and subsequent DVD release are additional opportunities that enhance not only the marketing of the film, but certainly the destination where it’s filmed.

When the Kauai Visitors Bureau (KVB) contemplated what to do with the 50th anniversary of the movie South Pacific, the bureau came up with the idea to bring the film’s star, Mitzi Gaynor, back to Kauai.

Having not been back to the island since she filmed the movie, it was a great story for the media. We held a very successful visit for Gaynor, and for Kauai, with millions in media impressions through magazine and newspaper articles, including an interview with Gaynor on Hawaiian Airlines’ in-flight program.

Our latest promotional opportunity presented itself with the release of The Descendants and its subsequent Golden Globe and Academy Award honors.

The KVB created an event in Beverly Hills three days prior to the Academy Awards. The goal was to honor author Kaui Hart Hemmings, who has family ties to Kauai where the story is centered, and to weave in the music of the movie through Cyril Pahinui and Jeff Peterson.

Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho invited Hemmings to attend the media event held in Los Angeles. When Hemmings agreed, it was one of those moments where the stars aligned. We had an evening filled with 30 media from Los Angeles who got to meet and “talk story” with Hemmings, and were entertained by the music of Pahinui, son of the late Gabby Pahinui, and Peterson, whose song “Hawaiian Skies” is on The Descendants soundtrack.

“This is the only red carpet that matters tonight,” declared Mayor Carvalho at the Garden Room at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. He proclaimed February 23, 2012, to be Kaui Hart Hemmings Day, with a Kauai County Proclamation and a framed photo of Kipu Kai, a location made famous in The Descendants.

It’s clear that some of the Kauai locations featured in The Descendants have new interest from visitors, including the Tahiti Nui restaurant in Hanalei, Roberts Hawaii Movie Tours, Kipu Ranch Adventures, and Kauai Vacation Rentals. All four establishments have reported an increase in business since the release of the film.

In fact, Antone Teves, co-owner of Kipu Ranch Adventures, told a reporter that the film has helped increase business by 20 percent. The eco-tour company has access to the site where George Clooney’s character, Matt King, and his two daughters stand looking at the view of Kipu Kai, and King thinks about the consequences of selling the unspoiled oceanfront land.

Meanwhile, Roy Cordeiro, vice president of sales and marketing strategy for Roberts Hawaii, said the company has seen a 10- to 15-percent increase for their tour of Kauai movie locations.

With the popularity of The Descendants and its soundtrack, the film is quickly becoming our modern day South Pacific and adding a new generation of Hawaii aficionados.

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