North Carolina readies for ‘Hunger Games’ opening

Anticipation for the movie version of “The Hunger Games,” which will be released next week, has been building for more than a year – and no more so than in North Carolina, where most of the film was shot.

At the North Carolina Governor’s Conference on Tourism this week, Governor Bev Perdue cheered the first movie of the dystopian saga, which stars Jennifer Lawrence as the rebellious Katniss fighting for her life. While “The Hunger Games” has become North Carolina’s largest film set on site (previous biggies were “The Last of the Mohicans” and “Dirty Dancing”), another 119 films are being shot in the state, Perdue said.

If you’re looking to follow in the stars’ footsteps, you’ll have to rent a car; shooting sites range from Charlotte (a stand-in for The Capital) to DuPont State Recreational Park, site of the Arena, to the tiny town of Shelby, where the Reaping scenes were filmed. During the shoot, the stars were based in Asheville, in the western part of the state.In anticipation of visiting fans, the VisitNC website has put together several “Hunger Games” resource guides, including a four-day itinerary and a Pinterest board. While businesses such as the Nantahala Outdoors Center in Bryson weren’t used during the filming, the state is cleverly tying them in with the movie’s survivalist message (you, too, can train like Katniss!)

So will the movie generate the tourist dollars that the state hopes to receive? The odds are ever in their favor. Just look at the boom in visitation that a certain Washington town named Forks received after the “Twilight” movies came out.

Travel writer Chris Gray Faust covers value luxury vacations on her award-winning blog, Chris Around The World.