OMG, The Hunger Games premiere is just days away (we're livestreaming all the action from the red carpet on March 12—be there!), and Team Peeta and Team Gale are buzzing like jabberjays in anticipation.
But before you watch Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) represent District 12 in the ultimate life-or-death battle in the highly anticipated flick, find out how they—along with Liam Hemsworth, Elizabeth Banks and the rest of the cast and crew—brought the story to life during their supersecret shoot in North Carolina.
We've got behind-the-scenes scoop and insider access to the making of the movie, so check out the five things you need to know here:
1. Filming Was Top Secret: Given the popularity of Suzanne Collins' trilogy, the studio did its best to keep fanfare to a minimum. "Lionsgate and all the local film commissions were hush-hush and wouldn't even confirm a film was being made here," local WLOS anchor/reporter Russ Bowen told E! News. The movie was shot under the working title Artemis, and Bowen sourced local contacts, employees and chatty extras for behind-the-scenes scoop. "My tweets did start to hit a nerve with someone. I was asked to scale back by the unit publicist," he said. Still, Bowen didn't reveal too much about what the cast was up to because he "didn't want to cross that line and ruin their Asheville experience."
2. There's a Local Lullaby: Asheville residents often tout the expression "local is the new black," and Hunger Games producers got the message! The song Katniss (Lawrence) sings to Rue (Amandla Stenberg) was recorded at Echo Mountain Recording Studios. In a blog post (which has since been deleted), the studio described Lawrence's rendition of the song as "haunting" and said, "If the music is any indication of how the movie is going to turn out, it's going to be fantastic."
3. H.G. Brought Big Bucks to North Carolina: Forget tobacco and textiles. The Hunger Games is giving the Tar Heel state an economic boom. The North Carolina Film Commission reports preliminary figures show production of the film pumped $62 million into the state's economy.
4. Sampling the Southern Comforts: According to tourism site Explore Asheville, the cast stayed at Hotel Indigo in the heart of downtown. They checked out local hot spots like the Lexington Avenue Brewery—where Hutcherson (Peeta) took Journey 2 costar Vanessa Hudgens to dinner—the Laughing Seed and Early Girl Eatery. "I've heard that the cast liked our bar scene, our music and art," local writer Corley May said. "I'm sure [they] appreciated the chance to just hang out and breathe in the mountain air for a change."
5. The Tributes Went Wild! When they weren't battling it out on camera, some castmembers were flying through the trees at Navitat Canopy Adventures outside of Asheville. According to Navitat's website, Hutcherson enjoyed the zip-line tour so much that he returned two more times—once with Hudgens.