POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Feb 25, 2012
Kauai residents say they expect a big boost in tourists if the critically acclaimed movie "The Descendants" is a winner Sunday in the 84th annual Academy Awards.
Businesses already report increases in visitor and resident interest and traffic driven by the movie featuring actor George Clooney — whose character, Matt King, is the conflicted scion of a land-rich kamaaina family — because people want to visit the places where the movie was filmed on the Garden Island.
Kipu Ranch Adventures, Roberts Hawaii and Kauai Vacation Rentals have received steady inquiries since the movie, directed by Alexander Payne, opened in theaters in November. "The Descendants" received Oscar nominations for best picture, best actor, best director, film editing and adapted screenplay. It won Golden Globes for best motion picture and best actor as well as the Writers Guild Award for adapted screenplay.
Kauai is well represented in the movie and has left an impression with moviegoers, according to Kauai Visitors Bureau Executive Director Sue Kanoho. The agency hosted a reception Thursday at a Beverly Hills hotel in Los Angeles to promote Kauai. Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. honored writer Kaui Hart Hemmings for her novel "The Descendants," which was adapted for the screen.
The movie already is "a win" to them, Kanoho said, regardless of what happens at the Oscars, as Payne did an exceptional job capturing the essence of modern-day Kauai.
Antone Teves, co-owner of Kipu Ranch Adventures, said the film has helped increase business by 20 percent. "We are busier now than we were at the same time last year," he said. The eco-tour company is the only one on the island that has access to the site where King and his two daughters stood, gazing at the breathtaking view of Kipu Kai as he contemplates selling the unspoiled oceanfront land.
The site where the three stood is the last stop of the company's three-hour all-terrain vehicle tour. It's a nice way to end the tour, with guests treated to an amazing panoramic view, Teves said.
Lucy Kawaihalau, owner of Kauai Vacation Rentals, said they receive a few calls a week from people inquiring about the vacation rental at Hanalei Bay where King and his older daughter visit his wife's lover, Brian Speer, played by Matthew Lillard.
Roy Cordeiro, vice president of sales and marketing strategy for Roberts Hawaii, said they observed a 10 to 15 percent increase for their tour of Kauai movie locations. Guests on the tour even are taken for lunch at the Tahiti Nui Restaurant, where Clooney's character meets with his cousin Hugh, played by Beau Bridges.
"We're looking forward to Sunday. We're all hoping it becomes the big winner," said Cordeiro.