As accolades and awards mount for the movie “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” – which was filmed in 2016 in Western North Carolina – the state is pitching the movie’s various locales as tourist destinations.
Visit North Carolina, the state’s tourism division, has assembled a trip planner for visitors to “explore authentic locations from ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.’” It’s a three-day trip through Western North Carolina, winding through Sylva, Dillsboro, Black Mountain, Asheville and Maggie Valley, which stood in for the fictional town of Ebbing.
“Three Billboards,” perhaps the most high-profile film made in North Carolina since 2012’s “The Hunger Games,” has emerged as a big winner this awards season. It picked up steam this week with the film winning four Golden Globes on Sunday, including best dramatic film, and three Critics Choice Movie Awards Thursday. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell picked up acting awards at both.
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Still to come are the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 21 and the Directors Guild Awards on Feb. 3. “Three Billboards” should figure into both and is also a heavy favorite to pick up multiple nominations for the Academy Awards, which will be announced on Jan. 23 and presented March 4.
McDormand stars in “Three Billboards” as a grieving mother who is furious that the local authorities have not solved her daughter’s rape and murder. While she directs most of her ire at Woody Harrelson’s police chief, McDormand’s main adversary is the hotheaded deputy played by Rockwell.
Filming took place from February through June of 2016. As laid out in the trip itinerary, Sylva’s Main Street stands in for downtown Ebbing, with the police department occupying consignment/gift shop Sassy Frass.
Although the three billboards of the title are no longer standing, they were on a stretch of North Fork Left Road near Black Mountain. Black Mountain’s Town Pump Tavern is also the site of a tavern in several key scenes. J. Arthur’s Restaurant, a restaurant in Maggie Valley, becomes a restaurant where a star-crossed onscreen date happens.
Figuring prominently in one scene is a deer, on loan from the Western North Carolina Nature Center in Asheville.
The independent film has grossed $26 million in the U.S. since its release in November, according to the International Movie Database. Some $3.1 million of its $15 million budget came from a 2016 state grant to lure the filmmakers to Jackson and Buncombe counties. The state said the film generated more than 350 jobs.
“The incentives offered by the state played a major role in recruiting ‘Three Billboards’ to North Carolina,” said Guy Gaster, director of the North Carolina Film Office. “The town setting and the fact that we had a crew base helped seal the deal. But to get us into the game for consideration, the incentives were a major draw.”
To find the itinerary, go to visitnc.com.