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The Reel Charlotte: Scene-Stealing Backdrops Featured on the Big Screen

Charlotte’s stealing some of Hollywood’s thunder as it becomes a go-to destination in North Carolina for well-known movies and television productions. The Queen City boasts hot spots from feature films and Emmy®-winning TV shows that can give visitors real experiences at locations from the reel. Whether doubling as a big city, small town or futuristic metropolis, Charlotte’s got diverse and abundant filming locations. The Golden Globe-winning Showtime hit “Homeland” uses Charlotte as the show’s backdrop of Washington, D.C. The Queen City also starred as the Capitol of Panem in “The Hunger Games,” shooting at venues like the Knight Theater and Bank of America Urban Garden. Alan Ball's “Banshee” features Charlotte as Banshee, Penn., a small town in the Amish country. Other productions recently filmed in Charlotte include season eight of “The Bachelorette” with Emily Maynard and J.J. Abrams’ CW pilot “Shelter.” You don’t have to travel to Hollywood to step into a scene from the big screen. Here is a sneak peek at the reel Charlotte.

Cinemax’s Banshee (2013 – present)

Charlotte doubles as Banshee, Penn., a small town in the Pennsylvania Amish country, in the new Cinemax Series “Banshee.” From “True Blood” creator Alan Ball, “Banshee” features Antony Starr as Lucas Hood, an ex-con posing as the sheriff of Banshee. “Banshee” was filmed in and around Charlotte during 2012 at various locations including McGee Lumber Company on North Graham Street, Miles Cafeteria in Gastonia, N.C., and various locations in Uptown Charlotte as well as Lincolnton, N.C. The “crime boss'” home in the series is a 10,000-square-foot house 24 miles south of Charlotte in Waxhaw.

Showtime’s Homeland (2011 - 2013)

Showtime’s “Homeland” filmed three seasons in Charlotte. The psychological thriller starring Claire Danes and Damian Lewis is set in Washington, D.C., but was filmed in Charlotte where Uptown resembles parts of D.C. and the suburbs have a likeness to northern Virginia. The Brody family’s “northern Virginia” house is in the Mountainbrook neighborhood in South Park near stores like SouthPark Mall, Phillips Place and the shops at Morrison. Freedom Park is featured prominently in the show’s premiere episode. Visitors won’t find any espionage in this lovely city park however. Full of tennis courts, soccer fields and walking trails, Freedom Park has been called the “Central Park” of Charlotte. In another popular area in Charlotte, Danes dined at the Myers Park restaurant Nolen Kitchen. Offering continental cuisine and an extensive wine list, Nolen Kitchen has become a popular hangout for Charlotteans and visitors alike. And just outside Center City, NC Music Factory is where Lewis performed a rousing rendition of “White Wedding” at the Homeland Season 1 Wrap Party at VBGB Beer & Hall Garden. VBGB has more than 30 beers on tap and cornhole boards to complement its fun, casual menu.

The Hunger Games (2012)

Starring as the Capitol of Panem in the hit film “The Hunger Games,” Charlotte took center stage in many well-known scenes in the movie. The Charlotte Convention Center was the location of a pivotal moment in the film when the underground loading dock served as the platform where Katniss became “the girl on fire.” Just one block from the Convention Center, the Knight Theater at Levine Center for the Arts served as the setting for the memorable tribute interview scene between Katniss Everdeen and Caesar Flickerman. Amelie’s French Bakery, a local favorite with locations in both Center City and NoDa, offers the same sweets that tempted Haymitch, Effie, Peeta and Katniss in the lavish dining car en route to the Capitol. And The Depot at Gibson Mill, an 85,000-square-foot antique mall, served at the backdrop for the coal mining town in District 12.

The Bachelorette Season Eight (2012)

Season eight of “The Bachelorette” brought 25 suitors to Charlotte to pursue bachelorette Emily Maynard in her hometown. The Queen City snagged a starring role as the setting for the consistently top-rated reality romance and continues to provide opportunities for flirty fun in Charlotte. The bachelors stayed in a fabulous six-bedroom European home in Ballantyne, one of Charlotte’s upscale neighborhoods with top-notch shopping, dining and the luxurious Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge. The Booth Playhouse in Uptown Charlotte offers intimate dance and music performances in the same location that Emily and her many admirers met The Muppets on a group date. Emily and another date attended an outdoor Luke Bryan concert at Trade and Tryon streets, a famous intersection marked by some of the city’s most notable public art sculptures. Osso at the NC Music Factory provided a private spot for Emily to dine on her first one-on-one date. The NC Music Factory is a revamped former textile mill home to 13 music, dining and nightlife hot spots including The Fillmore and Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre. The architecturally stunning Mint Museum Uptown features contemporary, American and Craft + Design collections in the same building that Emily and a date scaled down during an adrenaline-pumping one-on-one date.

CW’s Shelter Pilot (2012)

J.J. Abram’s CW pilot “Shelter,” set in a New England summer resort starring Elizabeth Henstridge, was filmed in and around Charlotte and other regions of North Carolina.

Leatherheads (2008)

Early American football sports comedy “Leatherheads” starring George Clooney, John Krasinski and Renee Zellweger featured Charlotte as the backdrop during multiple football game scenes. Portions of the movie were filmed at American Legion Memorial Stadium at Central Piedmont Community College with the Charlotte skyline in the background serving as the 1920 Chicago skyline.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006)

Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., served as the backdrop during multiple scenes in the 2006 motorsports comedy “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby” starring Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. Racetrack scenes at Texas Motor Speedway and Ricky Bobby’s comeback trial scenes were shot at the 1.5-mile superspeedway.

Shallow Hal (2001)

The 2001 romantic comedy “Shallow Hal” starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jack Black was filmed in and around Charlotte. The well-known Bank of America Corporate Center starred as the JPS Funds building where Hal worked with Rosemary’s father Mr. Shanahan.  And just 20 miles northeast of Charlotte in historic downtown Concord, the exterior of Hotel Concord doubled as Hal’s apartment complex. The picturesque St. Peter’s Episcopal Church on the corner of North Tryon and 7th streets was where Hal asked out the first girl after Tony Robbins put him under “the spell” that made him see women for their inner beauty. The old location for Fuel Pizza on North Tryon Street was where Hal and Rosemary had one of their first dates. They also shared a milkshake at Pike’s Soda Shop in the South End neighborhood in Charlotte. Freedom Park, known as the “Central Park” of Charlotte, served as a beautiful setting when Hal introduced Rosemary to his friend Mauricio. And when Rosemary introduced Hal to her parents, she took him to a residential home in the South Park neighborhood in Charlotte. After Mauricio reversed the spell on Hal, they abandoned Rosemary at a restaurant and walked through the Latta Arcade courtyard on South Tryon Street. The Capital Grille in Uptown Charlotte was the restaurant where Rosemary saw Hal at dinner with his neighbor Jill.

Days of Thunder (1990)

Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., was the setting for multiple scenes in the auto racing drama “Days of Thunder” starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. City Chevrolet, a sponsor for Cole Trickle early in the movie, is a real-life Charlotte area dealership that is owned by Rick Hendrick.  And Hendrick Motorsports prepared most of the cars in the movie and later used some of them in real races. The scene where Tim approaches Harry on a tractor was filmed on NASCAR legend Junior Johnson's former farm off Junior Johnson Highway in the Yadkin Valley.

Other Star Sightings

With media coverage said to have rivaled the Super Bowl, chances are you saw Charlotte in the spotlight in September 2012 when the Democratic National Convention came to town. Attractions like ImaginOn: The Joe & Joan Martin Center, an interactive children’s theatre and library, played host to “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” while the NASCAR Hall of Fame welcomed First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and news legend Diane Sawyer. City hotspots like 5Church became the place to see and be seen with celebrities like Zach Braff and Jessica Alba. The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte also drew its fair share of star power while accommodating Elizabeth Banks, Jeff Bridges, Eva Longoria and Jon Hamm. In total, the event drew more than 35,000 media, delegates, elected officials and VIPs including the commander-in-chief himself, President Barack Obama who stayed at the AAA-Four Diamond Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge.