TORONTO – It’s obvious that The Hunger Games’ film success has made its actors and author a lot richer, but North Carolina’s tourism industry is also getting a major boost in sales.
The post-apocalyptic world, the first in a trilogy, was filmed across the American state. Charlotte made a great Capitol city, Henry River Mill doubled as the setting for Katniss Everdeen’s District 12 home, and the fight-to-death scenes were brought to life in a 22,000-acre forest in Asheville.
North Carolina’s tourism department is making the most of its Hunger Games fame, even offering four-day self-guided tours for fans on its website. A new business, Hunger Games Fan Tours, has created day and weekend trips based on the film. Tourists are taken through North Carolina, “imagining” the trip from District 12 to Capitol city, and they’re even encouraged to act out scenes from the film.
Playing a backdrop in movies has helped other regions boost tourism – and there are stats to back it up.
Take a look at travel deals website, CheapFlights.com’s list of top 10 travel locations, made popular by Hollywood movies.
1. Vancouver, B.C. Home to the latest installment of Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Night at the Museum and the Twilight saga. Vancouver has been dubbed the Hollywood of the North, but it offers some of Canada’s best mountains, beaches, forests and city life. When scenes of Twilight: Breaking Dawn were shot in Washington state, website statistics for some travel companies went up by 225 per cent. In Squamish, B.C., the setting for the main characters’ Bella Swan and Edward Cullen’s wedding, accommodation searches shot up by 300 per cent. In Vancouver, Twilight’s main stage, tourism shot up by 59 per cent.
2. North Carolina. Also capitalizing on the tween novel craze is The Hunger Games, which is expected to be one of the highest grossing films of 2012. The state’s lush forests, industrial wasteland and modern architecture were easy to work with in creating the novel’s fictional Panem. Before The Hunger Games, North Carolina was also home to Dirty Dancing, teen sitcoms Dawson’s Creek, One Tree Hill and Homeland.
3. Thailand. The island nation’s appeal as an exotic vacation destination grew decades ago in an early Bond film – The Man with the Golden Gun. Koh Phi Phi Leh, once a hidden cove with powder soft sand and turquoise waters exploded with a new generation of tourists after Leonardo di Caprio’s The Beach chose the pristine spot as its paradise. Finally, The Hangover II bought into the country’s party reputation for its second film.
4. Kauai, Hawaii. Films that come to mind immediately are George Clooney’s The Descendents, Tropic Thunder, Jurassic Park, Avatar and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. America’s tropical island state is also a shape-shifter – it also doubles as Australia, Central and South America, Africa, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
5. New Zealand. Tolkien Tourism exploded after the Lord of the Rings trilogy dropped its cameras, crew and actors there. The country’s breathtaking landscapes are also home to The Chronicles of Narnia and, now, The Hobbit.
6. London, England. The bustling city is home to beautiful architecture, mouthfuls of history and eclectic neighbourhoods. Making use of what the city has to offer has been easy for cinema’s timepieces in Tudor, Victorian, Edwardian and Second World War eras. You can also see Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus in plenty of films – think Notting Hill, Love Actually and V for Vendetta to name a few. And don’t forget the Harry Potter multi-billion dollar franchise.
7. New York. While the city that never sleeps certainly doesn’t need a boost in tourism, it’s another hub for television shows, movies and celebrity homes. Think of Gangs of New York, The Terminal and the Resident Evil films. Then there’s the obvious: The Sex and the City television series and its two Hollywood films.
8. Prague, Czech Republic. The quintessential European city is home to a plethora of blockbuster heavyweights. Casino Royale, XXX, Van Helsing, Oliver Twist and Mission: Impossible were all shot there.
9. Argentina. The South American country’s name is well suited for the industry – “argento” means silver. In many cases, Argentina has posed as other countries: In Seven Years in Tibet the Andes were supposed to be the Himalayas, while in There Be Dragons it was makeshift Madrid. Argentina is also the backdrop for Evita and the Motorcycle Diaries.
10. Spain. Tabernas Desert, Europe’s only desert, has been the American Wild West’s double. It was Steven Spielberg’s set for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Tom Cruise’s Knight and Day and Wrath of Titans playing in movie theatres now.