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Asheville in the Movies

"Quiet on the set!" is not a phrase you think you’d hear while admiring the serene beauty of the peaks in Western North Carolina. But, more and more Hollywood producers have found that these 6000-foot peaks provide visually spectacular backdrops for the motion picture industry.

"North Carolina has more production complexes and sound stages than any state in the nation outside of California," said Asheville resident Michael Bigham, North Carolina locations manager for Last of the Mohicans and a Hollywood scout.

And Western North Carolina captured the attention of Hollywood years ago.

The first movie shot in Asheville was in the 1920s. Titled Conquest of Canaan, the movie was filmed in what is now Pack Square in downtown Asheville, and tells the story of a lawyer who makes good in a small town.

Here are a few other examples of Hollywood films and their Western North Carolina locations:

"Untitled Armored Car Project" 

Also known by its working title, Loomis Fargo, this heist comedy stars Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson, Kristen Wiig and a host of SNL alumni. Filming during summer 2014 included locations such as downtown Asheville's Pack Square, the Buncombe County Courthouse and College Street, all designed to look like Charlotte, N.C. circa 1997. The U.S. Cellular Center was also used in place of a Mexican airport.

"The Hunger Games"

Nearby Black Mountain and DuPost state forest provided the backdrop for scenes set in Appalachian District 12 and the dangerous Hunger Games arena. The young, star-studded cast stayed in Asheville during filming and enjoyed several hotspots around town. See more info here.

The Clearing Twentieth Century Fox"The Clearing"

The woods near Asheville provide the spectacular setting for Robert Redford’s film, "The Clearing," a thriller about a seemingly invincible tycoon who is kidnapped in broad daylight and held for ransom by an unemployed man (Willem Dafoe). "The Clearing" was filmed at the former Camp Sequoyah boys’ camp in a forest about thirty minutes from downtown Asheville.

"Hannibal"

Biltmore Estate was chosen as one of several locations for this film. Hannibal cast and crew also filmed in the venerable Florence, Italy. The magnetic and horrifying character of Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins, resurfaces after his escape in "Silence of the Lambs," the movie that precedes this.

"SongCatcher"

Filmed in 1999 in the mountains around Asheville, this movie stars Aidan Quinn and Janet McTeer as musicians around the turn-of-the-century in rural Appalachia. Lead actress Janet McTeer praises the mountain region, saying, "Having a chance to hear the ballads sung in their natural home was very moving."

"28 Days"

This movie starring Sandra Bullock was filmed the summer of 1999 at a Black Mountain conference center that is substituted as the mental institution in the movie.

"Patch Adams"

Released in late 1998, this drama is based on the real life of Doctor Adams. Featuring Robin Williams, much of the film was shot on Biltmore Estate and the campus of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Several scenes of the Appalachian Mountains were shot off the Blue Ridge Parkway on Elk Mountain Highway in Asheville.

My Fellow Americans"My Fellow Americans"

Shot in May of 1996, this political comedy starring Jack Lemmon and James Garner utilized the grounds of Biltmore Estate and other Asheville city venues, including the heart of downtown where the stars find themselves in the middle of a parade.

"The Journey of August King"

Released in late 1995, this movie is based on the book by Asheville native, John Ehle. It details the exploits of a traveler (Jason Patric) who encounters and helps a runaway slave (Thandie Newton).

"Nell"

Shot in 1994 at Fontana Lake, this film starred actress/director Jodie Foster. Tours of the cabin used in the film are available by either a 3-mile hike or by guided boats.

Richie Rich"Forrest Gump"

Several of the running scenes in this Academy Award winning movie were shot in and around Asheville.

"Richie Rich"

Featuring Macaulay Culkin as the cartoon character Richie Rich, this 1994 comic spoof transformed the famed 250-room Biltmore House into Rich Manor, where Richie, along with a team of kids, fought off "bad guys."

"The Fugitive"

This national blockbuster, starring Harrison Ford, utilized several mountain locations, including the small town of Dillsboro for the spectacular train crash. Today, visitors on the Great Smoky Mountain Railway can view the site of the crash. The Railway’s steam locomotive was used in the movie "This Property is Condemned" starring Robert Redford, Natalie Wood and Charles Bronson.

Last of the Mohicans set"Last of the Mohicans"

Based on the novel by James Fennimore Cooper, Western North Carolina became 18th century upstate New York. With Daniel Day-Lewis in the lead role, this movie, widely-known for its stunning scenery, was shot exclusively in the mountains around Asheville. Chimney Rock Park, a state park just southeast of the city, was showcased during the film and continues to receive calls whenever the movie is shown on television.

"Mr. Destiny"

Starring Michael Caine and Jim Belushi, this 1990 comedy was shot at Biltmore.

"Winter People"

Starring Kelly McGillis, this movie was filmed in large part in Barnardsville’s Big Ivey neighborhood. Shortly after the filming, McGillis purchased vacation property in the area.

"Dirty Dancing"

Past Chimney Rock is Lake Lure, where Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey starred in this 1980s hit that started a dancing craze. The view of the lake and surrounding mountains is majestic.

"Bull Durham"

Kevin Costner's box office hit made use of Asheville's minor league baseball park, McCormick Field. Before recent renovations, the park was the second-oldest major league facility in the nation.

"Private Eyes"

Don Knotts and Tim Conway starred in this movie filmed at Biltmore Estate.

"Being There"

Biltmore Estate again takes center stage as the home of a wealthy industrialist in the film "Being There". His final film before he died, Peter Sellers played Chauncey Gardener, a dimwit who became revered for his simpleminded ideas in this widely acclaimed comedy.

"Thunder Road"

Most of the scenes in this crime drama about running moonshine in the mountains were filmed in Asheville, and some at Lake Lure. The film was such a hit that it became a cult classic and continued to play in Southeastern drive-in theaters for three decades

"The Swan"

The Biltmore House was first seen on the big screen in 1956, when "The Swan" opened starring Grace Kelly. It was to be her last film.