Upcoming ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ filming in Middletown will end months of anticipation, efforts by officials

After several months of visiting and scouting out the Middletown area for possible filming locations, Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard and his production company will begin local filming of the “Hillbilly Elegy” movie next month.

Andy Lipschultz of the film production company said local shooting will begin on Aug. 5 and will last four days. He said there will be 125 people working on the filming at various locations in and around the Middletown area.

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Howard is directing the film adaptation of “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” that was written by J.D. Vance about growing up in Middletown and in Jackson, Ky. The memoir was a bestseller released in 2016.

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Over the past few months, Howard has visited Middletown several times scouting locations as part of his preparations to direct and produce the $45 million Netflix movie. During his visits to Middletown, he has become a regular of sorts at the Triple Moon Coffee Company, where he grabs a “Bad Hunter” sandwich and latte as well as donning a Triple Moon hat and posing in photos with employees.

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Howard’s visits have generated local enthusiasm to have as much of the movie filmed in the Middletown area as possible. In May, the Middletown Visitors Bureau creating short videos of downtown businesses and local residents encouraging Howard to “Make It In Middletown Ron” or #makeitinmiddletownron. The local videos were posted to Facebook and You Tube.

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While J.D. Vance’s best-selling book could be perceived as showing a less-than-flattering view of Middletown, there are many in the community that think it could be just as inspiring as Vance’s story about his journey.

Some say there are a lot of parallels can be drawn to Middletown and Vance’s journeys: Vance pulled himself up from his bootstraps by joining the Marines and eventually graduating The Ohio State University and Yale Law School; Middletown is doing the same through its revitalization efforts downtown and elsewhere in the city.

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“Hillbilly Elegy” will feature several major film stars that include Amy Adams, Glenn Close and Gabriel Basso.

Howard is producing with Brian Grazer and Karen Lunder for Imagine Entertainment. Julie Oh and Vance are executive producers.

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Imagine acquired the book at auction in 2017 and Netflix made a deal for a $45 million film in a heated bidding war earlier this year. The book was a bestseller for 74 weeks.

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