Moviegoers this year are going to see a lot of Asheville and its surrounding mountains on the big screen this year as a slew of Hollywood movies hit the big screen. The movie releases are coming as the film industry settles in with a new set of state incentives approved last year, the impacts of which are still being debated.
Here’s a quick look:
The World Made Straight
The movie, based on the book of the same name by award-winning Western North Carolina Ron Rash, was filmed around Asheville and in Black Mountain in 2013. It stars Noah Wyle and Minka Kelly in the Appalachian noir style that Rash has mastered. The story revolves around the repercussions of a Civil War massacre, an true-life event that happened in Madison County.
The movie has already been released on DVD, but screenings are set for 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on March 23 at Western Carolina University’s University Center Theater. (Rash is a WCU English professor.) The 3 p.m. screening will be followed by a panel discussion featuring Rash and the movie’s director, David Burris, who has a strong North Carolina connection.
This movie, also based on a novel by Rash, has a March 27 release date and features two of Hollywood’s hottest stars: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. The movie was filmed in the Czech Republic in 2012, but it is set in the Western North Carolina mountains of the 1930s. Cooper and Lawrence play a husband and wife who oversee a timber-cutting operation. It was directed by Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier. Early reviews of the flick have been negative.
The Longest Ride
Another popular North Carolina writer, Nicholas Sparks, provided the novel of the same name for this movie, which stars Alan Alda, Scott Eastwood and Britt Robertson. The famed Black Mountain College just east of Asheville was the inspiration for parts of this romantic tale. The characters played by Eastwood and Robertson (he’s a bull rider and she longs to work on the New York City art scene) fall in love but are pulled apart until they meet Alda’s character, a role model for lasting love with his wife. The movie release is set for April.
This hillbilly heist flick shot in downtown Asheville and around Western North Carolina stars Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson and Kristen Wiig. It’s based on a true story – the robbery of a Loomis Fargo armored car near Charlotte in the late 1990s. The big stars, and a host of fellow actors, were spotted around town as moviemakers took over downtown streets and shot scenes in WNC towns. The movie release date is set for Aug. 7. I’m anxiously awaiting a trailer.
A Walk in the Woods
The Appalachian Trail is a star in this A Walk in the Woods alongside Hollywood royalty in Robert Redford and Nick Nolte as hikers attempting to conquer the trail, which runs through Western North Carolina. The movie is based on the wildly popular book by Bill Bryson, who wrote about his own attempt at trail trekking. I know that scenes were shot around Fontana Dam in WNC, but I don’t have details on other film locations. The release date is set for late summer or early fall.
The sighting of movie star Jude Law around downtown Asheville for a few days last summer set off a social media storm of interest. Law was in town to do some research about famous native son Thomas Wolfe for the movie, a character that he plays in Genius. Law checked out local eateries, hit Pack Memorial Library and toured the Thomas Wolfe historic site and Riverside Cemetery to learn more about Wolfe’s life in Asheville. The movie’s story revolves around the relationship between Wolfe and his then-more-famous editor Max Perkins, played by Colin Firth. Nicole Kidman, Laura Linney and Guy Pearce also star. The release date is late 2015.
About time. I always want to read the book BEFORE seeing the movie, so I rushed out to find and read “Serena” and “The World Made Straight” in June and September of 2013 when both were finishing filming. It has been a 2 YEARS of post-production. I hope this is not a sign of the films being poorly made (as is often the case when the release is delayed for so long).
“A Walk in the Woods” –? That’s a shame. When I read it, I found Bill Bryson to be a smarmy and condescending bag of dicks. I shudder to think how much worse it will be on the screen in living color.