News Column

EDITORIAL: County well positioned for next Hollywood blockbuster

September 24, 2013

YellowBrix

Sept. 24--Success breeds success.

You've no doubt heard the phrase. It can be applied to everything from your classroom to your workplace to those who star in our favorite Hollywood blockbusters.

If you do a good job, you will receive more opportunities.

And it sounds like Cleveland County might just get one of those opportunities.

In 2011, we didn't quite know what "The Hunger Games" was. Of course, there are avid readers in our county and it was a regular on the bestseller list. But I don't think the average county resident would know what you're talking about if you mentioned Panem, Katniss or District 12.

Fast forward a few months, and we learned.

The P&M Warehouse and uptown Shelby served as film sites for the hit film based on the book. The warehouse was transformed into District 12, home to several of the main characters. Countless locals served as extras and were visible in the film's "reaping" scene, near the beginning of the film. Some are even seen in some of the film's promotional materials.

Cleveland County went all out to celebrate the film's release. There was a county-wide community read of the book. There were archery demonstrations and themed "Hunger Games" menu items at area restaurants. Guest speakers even came in to discuss survival techniques. And a line of hundreds of fans stood outside Carmike Cinemas for the midnight premiere of the film.

The movie went on to gross $400 million and catapult star Jennifer Lawrence -- aka Katniss Everdeen -- to the top of the list in Hollywood. It was just a few months ago that she won the Best Actress Oscar for her work in "Silver Linings Playbook."

So, could we see a return of Katniss to the county? According to the county's travel/tourism director Jackie Sibley, yes.

Sibley recently told The Star that she's currently communicating with several movie companies. And while the companies are silent about exactly what projects they're looking to bring to Cleveland County, it's conceivable, she said, that one is "Mockingjay," the third and final book in "The Hunger Games" series that will be split into two films.

The exposure Cleveland County gained from being a film site for "The Hunger Games" is immeasurable. International media outlets traveled to Shelby to document the project. Filming in Shelby was featured as an extra feature on the movie's DVD and Blu-ray release. And Sibley herself has overseen 30 tours of the film site since the project wrapped.

Time will tell as to if Katniss, Peeta and Gale will return to the county. But even if "Mockingjay" Parts 1 and 2 find film sites elsewhere, the county is now well positioned for its next blockbuster hit.

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(c)2013 The Star (Shelby, N.C.)

Visit The Star (Shelby, N.C.) at www.shelbystar.com

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