Until recently, Henry River Mill Village near Hildebran, N.C., was deserted and mostly forgotten. It was once the company town of the Henry River Manufacturing Co., which made fine cotton yarns, but the mill burned down in 1977 and the village had stood empty for years.
That changed when "The Hunger Games" cast and crew descended upon North Carolina last summer to shoot the movie, an adaptation of the hit dystopian fantasy book series, which opened the weekend of March 23 to record earnings of $155 million.
Henry River Mill Village played a starring role as the setting for protagonist Katniss Everdeen’s slum. Dozens of fans were already driving by the site before the movie premiere, according to a local news report on the Hildebran website.
Now, the owner of the 72-acre property, Wade Shepherd, told the AP that the area is getting bombarded by fans driving by and taking photos “day and night.”
While he’s not a “Hunger Games” fan and hasn’t read the books, he has seized upon the fever by putting the property up for sale at a price of $1.4 million. Shepherd, 83, who lives across the river from Henry River Mill Village, told The Associated Press he bought the property to protect his interests. Shepherd did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.
Buildings featured in the movie by Lions Gate Entertainment include the Everdeen family’s shack and the former company store (shown at left), which is currently used for storage, but which in the film played the role of the Mellark family bakery in Katniss’ flashback sequences (inset).
Whether Shepherd likes it or not, “The Hunger Games” is the first hit of a franchise with a reported three additional sequels in the works, so this private property has become a tourist attraction for the duration, as have other parts of the state featured in the film. The North Carolina tourism site VisitNC.com offers a four-day "Hunger Games" itinerary which includes Henry River Mill Village. (Event organizer Leigh Trapp, who produced Harry Potter Adventures fan tours, and Tammy Hopkins, local film liaison, are offering unofficial Hunger Games Fan Tours. Their Adventure Weekend, at $389 per person, includes survival skill training in DuPont State Recreational Forest.)
In addition to the expected tourism dollars that the movie is expected to bring North Carolina, the movie’s production brought in excess of $60 million into the state economy, making it the highest-profile motion picture made in the state.