Hunger Game buzz in Asheville keeps building

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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The Hunger Games buzz keeps building in Asheville, as the big-budget Hollywood movie brings attention to the scenes filmed in North Carolina, and Western North Carolina. Here’s a round-up of some of the latest links:

-Hunger Games opening night events: Carol Motsinger of the Asheville Citizen-Times reports that there are a number of movie-related events, including food drives, midnight showings and an invitation-only screening on Wednesday:

Asheville and Charlotte, where filming also took place, will also host early screenings Wednesday. Regal Biltmore Grande Stadium 15 in Biltmore Park Town Square will host Asheville’s invite-only showing.

In February, “The Hunger Games” first-day Fandango online ticket sales broke records, and local online pre-sales continue to be strong. As of Sunday night, six theaters at Regal Biltmore Grande were sold-out, for example. Tickets remained available in one theater.

“Tickets are going like crazy,” said Brevard’s Co-ed Cinema owner Mark Peddy said.

-Savvy marketing: The New York Times looks at how the company that made The Hunger Games used the Internet and social media to whip up fan frenzy over the movie:

Today, that kind of campaign would get a movie marketer fired. The dark art of movie promotion increasingly lives on the Web, where studios are playing a wilier game, using social media and a blizzard of other inexpensive yet effective online techniques to pull off what may be the marketer’s ultimate trick: persuading fans to persuade each other.

The art lies in allowing fans to feel as if they are discovering a film, but in truth Hollywood’s new promotional paradigm involves a digital hard sell in which little is left to chance — as becomes apparent in a rare step-by-step tour through the timetable and techniques used by Lionsgate to assure that “The Hunger Games” becomes a box office phenomenon when it opens on Friday.

While some studios have halted once-standard marketing steps like newspaper ads, Lionsgate used all the usual old-media tricks — giving away 80,000 posters, securing almost 50 magazine cover stories, advertising on 3,000 billboards and bus shelters.

But the campaign’s centerpiece has been a phased, yearlong digital effort built around the content platforms cherished by young audiences: near-constant use of Facebook and Twitter, a YouTube channel, a Tumblr blog, iPhone games and live Yahoo streaming from the premiere.

-A pay off for North Carolina: Forbes looks at how North Carolina, including Asheville, is looking to cash in on The Hunger Games:

Will the film credit pay off? Perhaps. Even before the opening, Hunger Games is said to have brought in nearly $60 million to the Tarheel State. In addition to Lawrence and the stars of the film, the production employed a whopping 5,000 people, many of them locals who worked as extras. In addition to the taxes paid on those wages, that means money spent by the cast and crew eating, drinking, – and apparently, ziplining.

In addition to money spent on filming, N.C. is hoping for a little something extra: good publicity. To qualify for the tax credit, productions are required to give on-screen credit to North Carolina. That publicity will – the state hopes – to lead to increased tourism; Asheville already has a Hunger Games section on its web site where you can sign up for a movie-themed vacation package.

Amanda Baranski, Executive Assistant & Assistant Corporate Secretary for the Western North Carolina Film Commission, agrees that publicity can lead to a pay-off for the state. She says that movie industry definitely makes a huge impact on tourism. “People want to be where the film was,” she says, noting that years later, people still flock to western North Carolina to see where The Last of the Mohicans was filmed. It’s one of a number of films that draw folks to the area, including Dirty Dancing, Hannibal, Patch Adams and Forrest Gump.

-Past is now present: The Raleigh News & Observer looks at how old mill towns and beautiful back country came together to create the look of The Hunger Games:

Most of the action – the arena where the actors fight – takes place in the Blue Ridge Mountains, especially DuPont State Forest, which isn’t well-known.

Starting in 1996, DuPont sold the state these 10,000 acres of woods between Henderson and Brevard, having abandoned the plant where it manufactured x-ray paper.

The park already brings in 188,000 people a year, but rangers expect that to surge on Hunger Games tourism. People are already asking how to get to Triple Falls, the 120-foot trio of waterfalls with boulders the size of minivans. It’s welcome but nerve-wracking. People die on these waterfalls every year.

During filming last year, the crew build a wooden plank where Katniss could scamper across the top, attached to a safety wire, rapids surging underneath.

“It’s pretty neat,” said Bruce MacDonald, assistant forest supervisor. “I’ve never gotten to run across the top of Triple Falls.”

Falls in DuPont have appeared on screen before, notably in “Last of the Mohicans.”

The people in nearby Brevard once relied on the Dupont forest for jobs. Now they’re hoping the movie will spark a new round of eco-tourism. They’re building a trail to connect downtown with the highly rated mountain bike tracks in a nearby section of Pisgah National Forest, and the hope around these sidewalks is that the Hunger Games is going to bring droves of people into the woods.

Image link for Hunger Games archer photo.


Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1
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  1. DRT March 20, 2012

    Let the backlash begin.

  2. Asheville Network March 19, 2012

    This is going to be a huge hit, and great for the Asheville economy.


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