Thursday, March 29, 2012

'Hunger Games' lands Charlotte on 'Today Show'

A "Hunger Games" heads up for you: Look for Charlotte on NBC’s "The Today Show" tomorrow morning in the 7 a.m. hour. It will use the city in a segment showcasing "Hunger Games" film sites with national correspondent Janet Shamlian. It was shot last night in the Knight Theater at the Levine Center for the Arts.

Also, the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority has set up a page with more filming site information for potential visitors, at Among the revelations: The sweets that tempted Haymitch, Effie, Peeta and Katniss in the lavish dining car en route to the Capitol of Panem were created by local favorite Amelie’s French Bakery.

Friday, March 23, 2012

'Hunger Games': $19.7 million at midnight shows

The odds are ever in favor of Lionsgate’s “The Hunger Games” making a Cornucopia full of money over the weekend.

As reported in Entertainment Weekly and the Los Angeles Times, the new movie raked in an astonishing $19.7 million from midnight showings across the country -- the seventh highest total gross from such first-night screenings, behind only “Harry Potter” and “Twilight” sequels.

“Hunger Games” fever is burning so hotly that Hollywood is anticipating the movie could make $100 million this weekend, and perhaps flirt with the top-five biggest openers ever. To crack that elite list, it would need to do better than last fall’s “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which opened to $138.1 million.

How much do you think “The Hunger Games” will earn at the box office this weekend?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Win 'Hunger Games' books, posters!

Less than two days remain till "The Hunger Games" finally hits theaters.

While you're waiting, spend five minutes writing me an e-mail explaining where and when you're going to see the movie, who you're going with, when you read the books, what you liked about them, and what you're most excited to see in the movie version.

One lucky respondent will receive this special "collector's edition" of "The Hunger Games" ($30 value).

Another lucky respondent will score "The Official Illustrated Movie Companion," and I've also got a "Hunger Games Tribute Guide" to give away. Those prizes will be mailed to winners. If you're willing/able to drop by the Observer, ANYONE who responds (with the asked-for info) can come get a free high-quality mini-movie poster featuring Katniss (aka Jennifer Lawrence).

Send e-mails to Please include your full name, age and city of residence. Thanks, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

See 'Hunger Games,' fight hunger

"Hunger Games" fans can help Carolina Cinemas' Charlotte Crownpoint & Loaves & Fishes fight hunger at a premiere night event for the new movie at Carolina Cinemas.

A "tribute" of five non-perishable, canned food items or a $2 donation is all it takes to enter for a night of family-friendly fun and games -- including popcorn eating contests, ping pong playoffs, bowling competitions and more -- all leading up to the most anticipated movie of 2012 -- a 12:01 a.m. screening of "The Hunger Games." (Movie tickets must be purchased separately.)
All tributes go to Loaves & Fishes to help fight hunger in our community.

Festivities begin at 10 p.m. Advanced purchase of tickets to the midnight premiere is recommended. (Again, entry to the pre-movie event does not include admission to the movie.)
The theater will continue to accept canned food donations until Monday, April 1. Anyone who donates five canned food items will receive a $2 popcorn donation from Carolina Cinemas (item must be redeemed day of donation).

Friday, March 16, 2012

'Hunger Games' advance ticket sales top 'Twilight'

In less than one week, millions of moviegoers across the country will be entering the arena of “The Hunger Games” as the movie debuts in theaters at 12:01 a.m. on March 23.

More than a thousand showtimes are already sold out across the country, from New York to San Francisco, from Maine to Hawaii, according to Fandango. Theater owners are adding additional showtimes -- some as late as 3:00 a.m. on Friday morning -- to meet the demand for tickets, available at The film’s advance ticket sales have already surpassed those of the first “Twilight” movie at the same point in that film’s sales cycle.

“Hunger Games” currently represents 71 percent of today’s ticket sales on Fandango. Here are a few more statistics from an online survey of several thousand “Hunger Games” moviegoers conducted on Fandango:

• 72 percent say the intriguing premise and action is what attracts them most to “Hunger Games”; only 18 percent picked the love story as the main attraction;

• 57 percent are planning to see the movie with a group of friends;

• 46 percent of respondents are 25 or older; 54 percent are younger than 25.

Read my story about what the stars and filmmakers of liked about North Carolina, where they spent four months filming last year, here.

You also have a few more hours to enter to win passes to the advance screening. Click here for details.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

'Hunger Games' fan tours launch in Brevard

Busy day, but wanted to pass along this press release, for the hardcore fans out there:

The Hunger Games movie opens on March 23 and Brevard, NC is getting excited! A lot of the scenes in the “games” were shot here in DuPont State Recreational Forest. Tammy Hopkins, Film Liaison and TCArts Council Director for Brevard and Transylvania County said, “My phone has been ringing off the hook with folks wanting to go see the film locations. So Leigh Trapp with the marketing trapp and myself have put together Hunger Games Fan Tours which will feature the filming locations used by The Hunger Games movie in DuPont State Recreational Forest.”

Leigh Trapp, who has produced and guided a variety of fan-based experiences based on franchises such as Harry Potter and the Twilight series says, “Fan tours for movies and books have become increasingly popular - as readers and viewers alike want the opportunity to experience the world their characters live in first hand - and share in their adventures. These tours give them a great way to see some of the movie locations - and share in the experience of participating in Hunger Games–themed adventures with other like-minded fans.”

“We just launched our website,” said Hopkins. “On the website you will see that we will offer Day Trips as well as Weekend Adventure Trips. On the Weekend Trips we will be teaming with Earthshine Mountain Lodge to offer an immersive, hands on experience with survival skills classes after the participants have been out to see the film locations. Leigh and I have worked closely with David Brown and Bruce MacDonald at Dupont to study the locations and design a guided tour that will be fun and safe around waterfalls.”

Hunger Games Day Trips: Explore DuPont State Recreational Forest with your Sponsor to discover the locations used in the movie. Master fundamental survival skills like orienteering, camo-face painting, and shelter building needed to excel in the Hunger Games. Lunch will be provided in Hunger Games style. Shuttle service, DuPont State Recreational Forest permit and guides provided.  Pre-registration required. Cost is $79 per person. Hunger Games Day Trips will be offered on the following dates: May 26 & 27, July 14 & 15, and August 11 & 12.

Hunger Games Fan Tours Adventure Weekend: Start your Hunger Games Fan Tours’ Adventure Weekend on Friday by gathering at Earthshine Mountain Lodge ( for an incredible evening. You’ll be part of the lottery and get separated into your own District. You’ll then join other Tributes for a welcoming banquet – Hunger Games style.

Saturday you’ll tour film locations in DuPont State Recreational Forest that were used in the movie. You’ll then reconvene at Earthshine Mountain Lodge for lunch. The afternoon will be filled with survival classes that you’ll need to participate in the Hunger Games Simulation: archery, sling shot training, fire building, orienteering, shelter building, and camo-face painting. In the evening you’ll have another Hunger Games dinner sponsored by the Capital – and you’ll night zip-line and see what it’s like to be in the tree tops at night like Katniss and Rue. On Sunday – you’ll convene for your Hunger Games Simulation. See if you and your district have what it takes to win the Hunger Games. Our Hunger Games Simulation will be timed trials of the skills you’ve learned over the weekend.

Your Hunger Games Weekend includes: three days and two nights stay at Earthshine Mountain Lodge, 6 Hunger Games meals, Hunger Games snacks, guides, all Hunger Games skill training, Night Zip Lining and your Hunger Games Simulation. Shuttle service to and from the Asheville Regional Airport is included. Cost: $389 per person. Note: There is a $2 ticketing process fee from Ticketleap, our ticket service. Hunger Games Fan Tours Adventure Weekend trips will be offered on April 27-29; June 8-10; June 22-24; July 27-29; August 24-26; and Sept. 21-23. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Win tickets to an advance screening!

If you can't wait till opening day, March 23, to see the film, here are fresh details about how to enter to win a chance to see "The Hunger Games" just a bit earlier than everyone else (click to enlarge)...

Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Stream 'Hunger Games' red-carpet premiere

The worldwide release of "The Hunger Games" is still almost two weeks away, but a select few will be seeing it in two days -- at the hotly anticipated film's red-carpet premiere in Los Angeles.

On Monday, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m., will be streaming live with host Josh Horowitz outside of the famed Nokia Theatre. "Hunger Games" stars on hand will include Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth to Elizabeth Banks, Wes Bentley and Woody Harrelson.

MTV will deliver expert fashion, fan commentary, and never-before-seen interviews with the cast and the film's director, four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross.

Meanwhile, go ahead and watch the official trailer for the 50th time. Thirteen days to go...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

'Hunger Games' cast greets fans in Atlanta

Several members of the cast of "The Hunger Games" met and greeted fans at Lenox Square in Atlanta in Tuesday as part of a cross-country mall tour Lionsgate designed to help promote the upcoming March 23 release of the film.

Pictured above, from left, are Jack Quaid (Marvel), Leven Rambin (Glimmer), Dayo Okeniyi (Thresh), Amandla Stenberg (Rue) and Liam Hemsworth (Gale). The event featured giveaways and a Q&A with the cast members in attendance.

Other stops on the tour include Phoenix, Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Minneapolis and Seattle. It started in Los Angeles last Saturday; fans there definitely got the bigger treat, as the cast members who appeared there were Hemsworth and co-stars Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson, who are in the two lead roles as Katniss and Peeta.

More info on the tour is here.

Oh, last thing: We've secured several pairs of passes to the advance screening here in Charlotte, set for Wednesday, March 21. Details on how to win them are coming... soon...

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New 'Hunger Games' clip, 'Muppets' spoof

Yahoo! Movies has released a new "First Look" clip, which shows the momentous first meeting between Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) and Cinna (Lenny Kravitz), the head of Katniss' style team for the Hunger Games. Check it out here:

Meanwhile, the Muppets have spoofed "The Hunger Games" in a trailer for the upcoming DVD and Blu-Ray release of "The Muppets" (in stores March 20 -- the same week "The Hunger Games" hits theaters). Watch them poke fun at the potential blockbuster flick here:

And finally, speaking of spoofs, here's one of the best we've seen online:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

$100 million opening for 'The Hunger Games'?

We won't find out for almost three weeks just how big a blockbuster “The Hunger Games” will be at the box office, but tracking on the film (which is Hollywood shorthand for awareness and interest) suggests this will be a monster of a money-maker.

According to the Los Angeles Times, speculation suggests that the movie, which opens on March 23, could have an opening weekend of close to -- and possibly more than -- $100 million.

On Rotten Tomatoes, 98 percent of more than 30,000 users who responded say they want to see "The Hunger Games." Hollywood Stock Exchange is currently predicting close to a $250 million box office take in the first four weekends of release. Already, “The Hunger Games” has broken the record for most first-day sales from online ticketing service Fandango, the LA Times reported.

A $100 million opening weekend would put the movie in the Top 20 on the all-time list. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" holds the record, with a $169.2 million opening last summer.

Meanwhile, movie writer Barry Koltnow of the Orange County Register recently put "The Hunger Games" at the top of his list of "the most over-hyped movies of 2012." Read his article here.

Have you bought your tickets yet?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Be the first to see 'The Hunger Games'

With less than 24 days until the much-anticipated release of "The Hunger Games," Lionsgate has announced 24 advance screenings of the movie to mirror the story's 24 "tributes" that fight to the death. And Charlotte is one of the lucky few.

Ours is the only city between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta to have been granted an early look at the film.

In a press release, Lionsgate said: "Fans can show their support for #HungerGames24 by visiting and tweeting a unique hashtag assigned to their closest city to unlock Advance Screening locations." (Charlotte fans: Use the hashtag #hungergames24CHA.)

Starting today, "the top four cities with the most Twitter volume will be announced each day and fans will then be able to enter to win tickets to those locations."

In addition, on March 10, the first customers to purchase a NOOK device at select Barnes & Noble stores will receive two complimentary tickets to the official advance screening on Wednesday, March 21. Locally, the only participating location is at 8725 Townley Road in the Birkdale area of Huntersville.

May the odds be ever in your favor.