“Need For Speed” is the latest of several movies filmed in Colum - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

“Need For Speed” is the latest of several movies filmed in Columbus area

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

"Need For Speed," filmed partially in the Columbus area last summer, premieres in theaters this week - but it's not the first time.

We took a closer look at how the Chattahoochee Valley has hit the big screen.

Movie-making is getting to be a big business in Georgia. It brings in more than a billion dollars each year, with some of that in Columbus.

Columbus may not be a "top gun" when it comes to movie production, but the stars have been coming to the Fountain City lately. Aaron Paul and others recently shot key scenes for action film "Need for Speed" in Columbus and Phenix City, including a crazy car crash on the 13th Street Bridge, which was exciting for the public and the mayor.

"This movie will bring 200 people to Columbus Ga. for the purpose of shooting the movie," said Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. "The world is changing and mid-size cities are becoming more desirable to do business in and do stuff in because they are much more negotiable It's easier to film movies here than in Atlanta, because it is possible for us to shut down a bridge."

In 2001, Mel Gibson, Sam Elliott and other actors were on Fort Benning shooting the film "We Were Soldiers," about American soldiers in the Vietnam War's first bloody battle.

It was one of five featured films done at least partially in the Chattahoochee Valley in the last 12 years. Sandwiched between that military flick and "Need for Speed," Columbus was featured in Paramount's "The Fighting Temptations" in 2003, starring Beyonce and Cuba Gooding Junior.

The Friendship Baptist Church choir got a minute of screen time. Then, Troup County hit the big screen with two films in 2012: crime drama "Lawless" starring Shia LaBeouf and "Jayne Mansfield's Car," directed by Billy Bob Thornton and featuring Kevin Bacon and Robert Duvall filming parts at a plantation just outside West Point.  The stars showed up at a pub in downtown LaGrange

"They've heard that before, you know: God, I love all your movies and everything so I just I kind of watched more than I tried to participate," said Mark Hires, a LaGrange pub regular.               

Columbus was one of the first cities that the Georgia Film Commission designated as a Camera Ready city - a plus for production companies when looking at destinations to make a movie.

Columbus Convention & Visitors Bureau President Peter Bowden tells us, "When a film crew or production company looks at a community for a project it adds the overall economic impact...even if it's just a temporary situation. It's new money to the area along with possible jobs, allowing existing businesses to benefit; like caterers, hotels, building supply stores, and other service related businesses."

Even actor John Wayne came here in the 1960's to make "The Green Berets" staying at the Round House on Fort Benning during filming.

Portions of the 1984 film "Tank" starring James Garner were also filmed on Fort Benning. The first notable movie to be done in the valley was "The Phenix City Story," released in 1955.

Last year, Columbus native and Pacelli High graduate Jeff Beeland was part of the team that won the Oscar for visual effects for the film "Life of Pi."

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