What’s left for “Hunger Games” fans after reading the trilogy by Suzanne Collins and seeing the blockbuster movie? Visiting the fantasy post-apocalyptic world, of course. No passport is needed to enter the country of Panem, where teenagers are pitted against one another in deadly fights, only a vivid imagination and transportation to North Carolina, where the movie was shot in its entirety. (The film production employed about 5,000 people and spent more than $60 million, making “Hunger Games” the largest movie made in the state.)
Some filming sites, scattered from the mountains to Charlotte and points in between, are private but can be viewed from the street, while others are open to the public. The NC Division of Tourism has published a four-day self-guided tour as well as a list of spots of interest.
Included is the site of District 12, where the main characters live, filmed in Henry River Mill Village, an abandoned mill village outside of the town of Hildebran, just off Interstate 40. The village, which held Katniss’s house and Peeta’s family’s bakery, is private, but can be seen from the road.
Thirty-five miles south, in Shelby, old cotton warehouses were the scene for the reaping, the event where District 12 tributes (game participants) are chosen. Charlotte stood in for the wealthy, totalitarian Capitol, where tributes are trained to fight. Several scenes were shot at the Charlotte Convention Center, which also happens to be home to this year’s Democratic Convention.
Almost all the game scenes were shot in Dupont State Forest, about 40 miles south of Asheville. Visitors can tour the 10,000-acre park on their own or sign up with Hunger Games Fan Tours, where an official tour guide, aka “sponsor,” will take customers, or “tributes,” through the battle scenes.
During one-day and weekend trips, guests will learn survival skills, including archery, slingshot techniques, and fire building, and will be taken to several sites from the film, including waterfall scenes and where Katniss tried to escape from the fire.
Tammy Hopkins, co-owner of Hunger Games Fan Tours recently said she’s seen a flood of interest. “Just today, I got sign-ups from families in Kansas, Chicago, and South Carolina.”
Weekend participants will even be treated to special “Hunger Games” dishes. “We wrote down every meal in District 12 and the Capitol. We take all this seriously. We want to honor the book and the movie.”