Posted by: Jerry Garrett | March 18, 2012

Where Was “The Hunger Games” Filmed?

The official trailer for “The Hunger Games”


Where was the movie, “The Hunger Games“, filmed?

The short answer is North Carolina.

The longer, more detailed answer takes a bit more explanation.

First, why North Carolina? It certainly wasn’t the setting of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of novels upon which the movie is based.

That all occurs in fictional Panem, in some post-Apocalyptic world. Indeed, the Capitol is supposed to be located in the Rocky Mountains.

The answer is money.

A couple of years earlier, North Carolina decided to follow the lead of New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, Louisiana and others in offering generous (some say “lavish”) production incentives to film makers. Filmmakers are eligible for a refund on 25 percent of salaries and money they spend on taxable items in North Carolina. That can be worth up to $20 million per film project, said a recent press release from state government.

For a film like “The Hunger Games”, which had a rather modest $78 million budget, the film tax credit was a significant chunk of change.

The governor, Bev Perdue, said in early March – a couple of weeks before the film opened – that “119 films are now under way in North Carolina.”

Film industry spending increased in the state from $75 million in 2010 to $220 million in 2011 ($60 million of which came from “The Hunger Games”). The financial incentives to film makers are being paid by the state’s travel and tourism industry.

Enough facts and figures, what about actual locations in the movie? Film makers went to dozens of locations in western North Carolina, including the following counties: Buncombe, Cabarrus, Catawba, Cleveland, Henderson, Mecklenburg and Transylvania. Every frame of the movie – except for the computer-generated fakery – was supposedly shot in North Carolina.
Want specific sites?

The Avenue of Tributes - a.k.a. Charlotte Convention Center (Lionsgate)

Charlotte – This area was where the fictional Capitol was located. Many different scenes were filmed here, at a variety of locations, including the more futuristic-looking buildings downtown. But frankly, anything of actual Charlotte was pretty much obliterated by the computer-generated filler (especially the “mountains”) shadowing every structure.

The Avenue of Tributes scene was shot in the Charlotte Convention Center, but as you can see from the photo above much CGI embellished the setting.

Philip Morris plant

The Knight Theater at the Blumenthal Performing Arts Center was the site of the tribute interviews with Mr. Blue Hair. A decommissioned Philip Morris plant in nearby Concord was private enough – away from fans who mobbed filming sites – for interior scenes, such as Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) being marched around by stormtroopers from one set to another.

(Speaking of Charlotte, epicenter of stock car racing, NASCAR fans may notice the similarity hovercraft seats have to those in stock cars; incidentally, a colorful former driver, Soapy Castles, was a stunt performer in the film.)

Hildebran – This old mill town, just west of Hickory, almost became a ghost town after the cotton yarn manufacturers skedaddled to use sweatshops in cheaper countries, a generation ago. The Henry River Mill Village, now abandoned, is where the Mellark bakery and the Everdeen family’s shack were located.

Peeta Mellark's gray life in District 12 (Lionsgate)

The site is closed to the public, but there’s a new Hildebran Heritage Museum if you want to get a better idea of what “District 12” looks like.

Pisgah National Forest – Film makers don’t pinpoint every scene they filmed in this rugged forest in the Appalachian Mountains around the Great Smoky Mountains, along which runs a large stretch of the famed Blue Ridge Parkway. But you can see some familiar terrain from the Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, northeast of Asheville. Off of old U.S. 70, east of town, take the North Fork Road out to Burnett Reservoir, where the Cornucopia scenes were filmed. Some of this is closed to the public (because it is a municipal water supply), so stay on marked trails. A hike of the Coleman Boundary, or Big Ivy, trail in northern Buncombe County should take you past Douglas Falls and Walker Falls and some familiar rock formations! For a panoramic view of it all, there’s a very cool zipline canopy tour in the area, offered by Navitat.

Katniss in DuPont State Forest, NC (Lionsgate)

DuPont State Forest– Waterfalls abound in this 10,000 acre forest, south of Asheville in Transylvania and Henderson counties. Check out some of the most famous Bridal Veil, Grassy Creek, High, Hooker, Triple and Wintergreen. Find the real landscapes which pretended to be artificial Arena settings in the movie. The fireball sequence was filmed here. Katniss’ pond was also in this park.

The park gets its name from the DuPont company, which used to own the land and use it for an x-ray film production facility.

Reaping scenes in Shelby, NC (Lionsgate)

Shelby – The Reaping scenes were shot at the old cotton warehouses on So. Lafayette Street. The Hall of Justice set was also supposedly built here.
Cast and crew remember the agony of triple-digit weather during the shooting here, which necessitated the actors being blasted with air conditioning, to avoid heat exhaustion in their heavy costumes and makeup.
Asheville – The armory was used for some training scenes. The cast spent almost two months working out of here in the summer of 2011, when most of the filming was done.
A “Hunger Games” Itinerary
North Carolina’s tourism folks have actually put together a suggested four-day itinerary around the state to see movie locations, sets and places where the cast and crew ate, stayed and played.
Return on Investment?
The producers said they had also scouted locations in New Mexico and Canada, but the scales were tipped in North Carolina’s favor by the state’s generous tax credit. Tourism authorities believe the state is shown to such good effect in “The Hunger Games“, tourists will be compelled to visit North Carolina in greater numbers – and more than make up for the millions paid to the film makers.
But if so many key locations in the movie, such as the creepy abandoned mill in Hildebran, the municipal water supply in Buncombe County, and the sterile Philip Morris plant, are closed to the public – how much tourism bang is possible for all those bucks?
Jerry Garrett
March 18, 2012


  1. Food for thought on The Hunger Games:

  2. Just got back from seeing the movie – it was awesome. My parents were living on North Fork road in Black Mountain when the movie was being filmed – the road was closed off during filming. I love western NC which made the movie even more special to me. My son and I have done plenty of hiking in Pisgah Forest and in Chimney Rock park where the Last of the Mohicans was filmed and the famous scene where the girl jumped off the edge – one of my all time favorite movies.

  3. You Said The Justice Building Was Built For The Movie, Is it still there, or taken down?

    • The building is still there, but the facade is changed.

      • Ive seen a report saying most of this was filmed in a private area, is this area not private, will they let you go?

      • The Philip Morris plant is definitely private property, not open to the public. News crews couldn’t even get in, when the movie was being filmed there. Burnett Lake can be seen from many vantage points, but access to the lake itself is pretty restricted. The Hildebran and Shelby sites can be viewed from a distance, but you aren’t supposed to trepass.

      • Then How Did they get in? did they have to pay?

      • The film makers had the full cooperation of state and local governments, as well as private land owners, and were pretty much given whatever special permissions were needed to film wherever they wished. The fact the locations remained closed to the public allowed the film makers to work unimpeded.

    • I believe there is a core of an older building (a mill) under the facade that was built for the set.

  4. And is there a way to contact the reaping settings owner?

    • Most of it was a set.

      • Not really. None of it was a set. It was all done inside the warehouse area.

  5. “First, why North Carolina? It certainly wasn’t the setting of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy of novels upon which the movie is based”

    Actually in the book Hunger Games it is stated that District 12 is located in an area once known as Appalachia.

    • Granted, it is on the southern edge of that mountain range.

  6. Growing up just miles from Charlotte on one side and Shelby on the other, I can honestly say that the move to attract film-makers to NC was a wonderful idea and Lord knows we’re all hoping our State will see some revenue come from it in the long run… but as far as “why NC” as some have asked… for those of us that live here, one only needs to reflect back on all of the award-winning films that have chosen this state for scenic reasons. The Color Purple was most noted but Last of the Mohicans won the Oscar for its scenic value and we’re quite proud of that. And of course Jodie Foster’s film, Nell was also memorable for it’s scenic value. If memory serves, Some expensive filming equipment was lost during the filming of Nell when downtown Charlotte hosted an incredibly rare tornado that year. Hollywood makes a mark on NC and NC makes a mark on Hollywood.

    Being able to tour these locations might well become an issue if this now #1 film in the nation ends up becoming a cult classic. I’m sure we all know what that could do to those “No Trespassing” signs. lol

    • No question North Carolina is a lovely state. If it works to encourage film makers to come and record some of that loveliness, all the better.
      Will this movie become a cult classic? That’s a harder question to answer. There was a significant fall-off in ticket sales from the first weekend it was in theaters to the next. A blockbuster needs better “legs” than that, industry analysts say.
      I was hoping the movie would make zillions of dollars, and the film makers would get more money for the sequels, to improve production values.

  7. Obviously the author of this article didn’t read the book very closely if he doesn’t know that District 12 is supposed to be in the Appalachian coal districts. That is another reason why choosing to film in the Appalachian mountains in western North Carolina was perfect for the movie!

    • The Appalachian coal districts are in western Pennsylvania, eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and all of West Virginia. Granted, limited coal deposits have been found in three North Carolina counties, but sporadic efforts to mine the coal pretty much ended with the notorious Glen Coal Mine disaster of 1925. The Carolinas are tobacco and mill country.

      • Yes, I know that North Carolina does not have a coal industry, but it’s still in the Appalachians. The landscape (and, incidentally, the culture) is very similar throughout the Appalachian mountains, so, although North Carolina does not mine coal, it makes sense that they filmed there, especially when the other options were New Mexico or Canada. It’s no different than Last of the Mohicans being filmed there, when that story was set in the Adirondack section of the Appalachians. If it was supposed to be in the Appalachians, then wouldn’t it make the most sense to film it somewhere in the Appalachians?

      • North Carolina is not a complete disconnect for District 12. I don’t know if you could say that about the Capitol. But, thinking about this, the scenes set in “District 12” are a rather small percentage of this film. Yet, all of it was shot in North “District 12” Carolina. That aspect of it, to me, is where the disconnect occurs. That said, the state is gorgeous, under-appreciated as a tourism/scenic destination, and populated by generally delightful folks.

  8. The District 12 site in Hildebran is closed to the public officially. HOWEVER, it’s basically right on the main road. You drive through the middle of it when you drive there. It’s magnificent for a fan to see. When I drove by there a couple days ago, cars were parked all along the street and people were walking up and down the streets of District 12. They were posing for pictures in front of Peeta’s Bakery (which still has the bakery and pastry signs on it from the film). It’s private, but no one is stopping the lookie-loos. To the owner of the property, we thank you for letting us peek.

    • This is great information! Thanks for sharing!


      • Especially for the losers.

  9. actually, they have now opened up the Hildebran mill site to the public. You can visit M-F from 9-5 and Sat from 9-3. I live about 10 minutes from it and there is now a sign up to that effect. And to the previous poster who said that District 12 is “supposed to be in Appalachia”. duh! There’s a reason the university that’s 45 minutes away is called Appalachian State University. That would be because we are in the Appalachian mountain range, which actually continues into Northern Georgia.

    • I heard recently the owner of the Hildebran mill site has now listed it for sale. Probably seeing a good opportunity to unload sort of a problem property. Don’t think much of anybody cared about it until the movie came out. It’s not exactly resort property.

      • A sheep station/ranch in a non-tourist area of NZ was used as the set for the Shire the Hobbit village in Lord of the Rings. Hobbiton as it is now called now receives bus loads of tourist daily. Hildebrand could have a similar fate.

  10. Having gone to New Zealand for a Lord of The Rings tour I would bet North Carolina will see increased tourism from Hunger Games.

  11. Go to Google maps. Look uo Henry River Rd in Noth Carolina and you can see the old house’s from the road. Use your little yellow guy to go up and down the street. Verry Cool.

  12. Exactly why would you pick North Carolina instead of Ohio (or atleast made disrict 12 in Ohio)? I thought Ohio was one of the coal leading states.

    • That, and West Virginia…

      • Most of the things I am reading here is partly right but mostly wrong. I own the Hunger Tours and we have toured folks from 37 states and 6 countries in 15 months. Here are the facts: the reaping was shot in Shelby NC off S. Lafyette st. The wall that the stage was built against is an existing wall. The reaping area looks just like it did except the stage made of wood and covered are gone. The Hob scene and the District 11 riot scene were also shot in the same warehouse area. It’s locked private property but we have access for our tours. The office Katniss tells everyone goodbye in is around the corner from this.
        The cave scene along with the hovercraft and hunting scene were shot in Barnardsville at Corner Rock.
        The mill village looks exactly as it did. You can go to the hunger tours Facebook or the hunger and see what all the sites look like today.

  13. I was coming back after my vacation from Gatlinburg, Tennessee for spring break this year. After me and my family went to have lunch, we drove through a place where people were gathering around for something then I realize it said something about Hunger Games. So we talk about it till we were almost out of the mountains. I’ve seen the movie a week after my vacation. Love this movie!!

  14. Love the site

  15. […] Carolina struck some folks as an old choice, but as we reported back then, money talked – and North Carolina out-bid places like New Mexico, Louisiana, Michigan and […]

  16. north carolina is actually a good place to film the hunger games because district 12 is basically right there if you read the books

  17. Everyone loves what you guys are up too. Such clever work and coverage!
    Keep up the great works guys I’ve added you guys to our blogroll.

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