Historic Atlanta Storm Puts 'Mockingjay' Filming on Ice
Unusual, dangerous winter weather stole the spotlight from the "Hunger Games" sequel, "The Vampire Diaries" and some TV shows.
Already reeling from the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, believed to be due to a drug overdose, the Atlanta set of The Hunger Games: Mockingjay faced another challenge this week: the weather.
Production was disrupted by a dangerous ice storm.
The two-part final installment has been filming in Atlanta, Georgia, and surrounding areas since September. Just last week, the movie was reportedly filming in downtown Atlanta at the 200 Peachtree event space indoors. Stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Julianne Moore and Sam Claflin were all photographed on the set. But the storm stole the spotlight this week.
Snow, sleet and freezing rain pelted the Atlanta area on Wednesday and Thursday. The combination was expected to create "extremely hazardous" driving conditions and led to more than 400,000 homes and businesses losing electricity in Georgia at some point during the storm, the Associated Press reported early Thursday.
Some of the Mockingjay castmembers even posted tweets and Instagram photos about the storm. Wes Chatham posted a snowy photo, writing, "the streets of Atlanta are deserted." Willow Shields referred to "snowy mornings" and another "apocalypse" in Atlanta in an Instagram post.
— Wes Chatham (@weschatham) February 12, 2014
Meanwhile, the storm shut down production on four TV shows that film in Atlanta: The CW's Vampire Diaries and The Originals, and Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva and Devious Maids. All four series halted production on Wednesday due to the storm, with Diva staying dark on Thursday. AMC's The Walking Dead also films in the area, but it is not in production at the moment.
The storm is the second blow to the Lionsgate film in as many weeks, as the production is still dealing with the Feb. 2 death of Philip Seymour Hoffman. Although the studio said Hoffman's death would have "no impact" on production, the actor still had one major emotional scene left to film in Mockingjay -- Part 2, the final installment in the Hunger Games series.
Hoffman had nearly completed filming on Mockingjay -- Part 1, set for release in November, when he was found dead in his New York City apartment. He also had seven days of filming remaining on Part 2, set for release in November 2015.
But Lionsgate insiders told The Hollywood Reporter editor-at-large Kim Masters they were confident they could come up with an acceptable solution.
"We're all extraordinarily sad," a studio executive told Masters. "But as it relates to production, it's going to have no impact. Obviously, we're going to have a couple of work-around issues, but the movie will be creatively whole. His performances in both [remaining] movies will be up to the best of his craft. We feel it will be a good tribute to him."
A source with ties to the project told Masters that with the exception of that one major scene, "they seem to have plans that don't seem very complicated" to complete Mockingjay. "You can do digital things, you can have conversations where you're not focusing on him but the people he's talking to," the observer added.
When British actor Oliver Reed died of a heart attack while he was on location for Ridley Scott's Gladiator, most of his scenes had already been shot, but digital effects were used for additional scenes. It's possible Lionsgate will do something similar, albeit more technologically advanced, for Hoffman's character.
Hoffman's character, head gamesmaker Plutarch Heavensbee, first appears in the second Hunger Games book and film, Catching Fire, but his role is expanded in the third book, Mockingjay, with him even acting as somewhat of a mentor to Lawrence's Katniss.
Lionsgate and 200 Peachtree declined to comment. The Atlanta Office of Entertainment and the entertainment director at the Georgia Department of Economic Development did not respond to THR's request for comment.
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