To all the Hunger Games fans in Atlanta, the odds are definitely in your favor for the rest of January… because you have the opportunity to tour one of the movie locations for the film The Hunger Games: Catching Fire!
Of course, the majority of the movie was filmed here in Atlanta, so you theoretically could stumble upon several of the movie locations, if you know where they are.
But would you get a personalized tour? Would you glean anecdotes about the movie set from someone who was actually there during filming? Would you be touring a gorgeous 1920s-era mansion???
A little mockingjay tells me that you would get all of that and more if you went on the Swan House Capitol Tour... Talk about a scoop!
The Swan House, located on the 33 acres of land that encompass the Atlanta History Center in Buckhead, is featured in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire film as the interior and exterior of President Snow’s mansion!
(We hear that even with this starring role, the Swan House remains extremely down-to-earth and accessible. No diva-ness whatsoever.)
For a limited time, the Swan House is hosting a special Hunger Games guided tour that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the three-week film shoot in the mansion.
The tour includes fun facts, remnants of the movie set, photo opps, and more!
Catching Fire's fake movie name was "Idiom".
Ticket price is $26.50 for adults (there’s an online discount), and the tour is only available on Saturdays for the rest of January, so if you’re going, jump on it!
You’ll learn precisely why the location scouts for Catching Fire took one look at Swan House back in March 2012 and said, “Yes, this is the place.”
Peep the mansion in this trailer below; you can see the inside of the Swan House in each scene that President Snow and Plutarch are talking, as well as when Effie says, "Chins up, smiles on" during the outdoor party scene:
The mansion is actually even lovelier in person.
It’s fascinating to learn that the grandeur of it is real, not just a set constructed in Hollywood. Quite a bit of the actual house and its furnishings were used in the film. Let's take a peek:
Built in 1928 as a vacation home for the young, newlywed couple Edward and Emily Inman (yes, they’re from the family for which Inman Park neighborhood is named), the Swan House boasts the ultimate luxury for pre-Depression-era living.
High ceilings, inlaid flooring, Austrian crystallized chandeliers, gilded light fixtures, antique wallpaper, conflux mirrors, grand fireplaces, artwork collected from traveling the world… the mansion has many rooms and gardens that reflect the elegance with which the fictional President Snow would surround himself.
After all, he’s safely cosseted in the Capitol of Panem and far away from the deprivation and ill-treatment inflicted on the twelve Districts. Comfort would be his king!
So how did the Swan House come to be President Snow's mansion?
It all started in March 2012, when location scouts discovered the house and knew it'd be perfect for Snow's residence. They told the Atlanta History Center that it was a sci-fi movie, which caused a few eyebrows to furrow with confusion.
A sci-fi movie? In a 1920s classic house like this? But the History Center agreed.
As the scouts were leaving, they casually mentioned that the film would be The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. Confusion promptly turned to elation. A mega hit movie could definitely film here!
After securing the location, the production team began respectfully adjusting the interior and exterior to their needs.
They built up the ball scene in front, and the garden area, and the outdoor staircase leading up to the president’s mansion was entirely made for the movie, constructed out of wood and painted to look like stone.
They created more steps to look just like this.
The team made adjustments inside the house as well, including painting some rooms. Filming at the Swan House began in August 2012.
Yeah, I popped into the President's office.
If you’re looking for Swan House scenes in the movie, here are a couple: when Snow talked with Plutarch in the dining room, when he talked to his granddaughter on the breakfast porch, when he watched Cesar Flickerman on TV, as well as when he watched the riots on TV.
One of the bigger mansion scenes in the movie was when Snow gave his congratulations to Katniss and Peeta on their engagement out in the gardens amid hundreds of party-goers.
Fun fact: the History Center was still open to visitors during the production!
Of course, the Swan House itself wasn't open for visitors, but the other areas in the 33-acre Center were. It was a bit of a challenge to conceal the 300 extras (actors who don't have speaking parts in movies) from view, especially since they were dressed up in the over-the-top costumes of the Capitol.
But the History Center just told visitors that there was a wedding or photo shoot going on. Mum's the word, folks!
If you’re a Hunger Games fan, I definitely recommend you checking out this tour. In addition to visiting the movie location, the price of admission includes entry to the Atlanta History Museum, the Smith Family Farm, and 33 acres of gardens.
Swag available in the gift shop
And I hope you get the tour guide I got: he was on the movie set every day with Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss), Josh Hutchenson (Peeta), Donald Sutherland (President Snow), and Elizabeth Banks (Effie).
He shared several fun stories of the experience, including how emphatic Josh Hutchenson was about loving Fellini’s Pizza, and how the first time he saw Donald Sutherland, the Oscar-winner was rocking a Member’s Only jacket, pink curlers in his hair, and a cheerful disposition.
And one last fun fact: the History Center and the Swan House are open for visitation year-round, and are available for all kinds of rentals. Well, this one guy was scheduled to rent the Swan House for his wedding, and it turns out that, with the scheduling, he got married on the actual movie set!
As in, production hadn’t dismantled everything yet! By far, probably one of the coolest weddings around. Here's hoping the bride wore as beautiful a wedding gown as Katniss did.