CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- City Council members are discussing a plan to buy Eastland Mall. It would cost the city about 13 million dollars. There's talk of turning the site into a movie studio. But is that a good use of your tax dollars?
You probably wouldn't guess, some of the major scenes from the blockbuster hit “Hunger Games” movie were shot at Concords old Phillip Morris Plant.
Hunger Games crews spent $60 million filming in the Charlotte region.
“It was phenomenal, it gave us worldwide attention,” said Beth Petty with the Regional Film Commission. Petty helps bring the big projects to town.
The sequel to the movie will be shot at a Georgia studio, in part because the studio space they built here at the Phillip Morris plant was no longer available.
Petty said, “That was hard – that’s a hard loss, it really is. Keep our fingers crossed, maybe other ones in the future.”
Chris Cates runs Reelworks, a Charlotte movie studio, and has helped build studios in LA and DC. He says the Queen City definitely needs bigger sound stages to draw a bigger Hollywood crowd, but isn't sure the city's plan to turn Eastland Mall into a movie studio is the best idea.
“The business is building, we do need some larger spaces, but if you consider the investment it takes to build a studio…from a financial standpoint it’s a very challenging business model,” Cates said.
He and his partner say you'd pretty much have to knock the mall down and start from scratch.
“The mall is never going to get converted, it will cost way too much money to do that,” Cates said.
But Petty says the Eastland Mall could be the answer to bringing more productions to town.
“Sometimes we’ve lost them simply because there wasn’t large enough stage space to house that particular production,” Petty said.