You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

‘Hunger Games’ theme park near Atlanta shelved

A planned Bartow County theme park featuring “The Hunger Games” as its main attraction won’t be going forward as planned.

Backers of Avatron Smart Park, once pitched as a $600 million-plus special effects-driven theme park near Lake Allatoona, will put the project “on hold indefinitely,” the development company’s CEO, David Garrett III, wrote in an open letter to Bartow County.

The Daily News Tribune in Cartersville first reported the news on Monday, and Garrett confirmed it in an email. The apparent cause was financing difficulties.

“One of our key partners had to suspend its participation” at a key time, Garrett wrote in the letter.

“If this is goodbye, we thank you one last time for your generosity and belief in AVATRON,” Garrett’s letter said. “If this is a ‘not-yet’ situation, then we thank you for your patience and understanding.”

The project emerged in early 2015, and developers later announced a deal with Lionsgate to bring to life attractions based on film series such as “The Hunger Games,” “Step Up” and “Now You See Me.”

Avatron officials said at the time the company would license the film rights from Lionsgate, but would be responsible for finding investors and financing to make the park a reality.

Partners and siblings Jo and James Ram said in 2015 they hoped to close on the land, along Paga Mine Road near Cartersville, by the end of that year and break ground in early 2016, to open the first phase of the park in January 2019.

The 700-acre tract is about 40 miles northwest Atlanta along I-75 near the Lakepoint Sporting Community & Town Center complex.

Bartow County Sole Commissioner Steve Taylor said Avatron’s decision was disappointing, as the project could have provided a jobs and tax revenue boost for the county. The county did not provide any incentives or infrastructure for the project, though such discussions might have occurred if Avatron had acquired the site.

Taylor said he hopes the land will be attractive to other buyers for potential tourist or residential development.

“I feel bad for the people who worked so hard,” he said. “Mr. Garrett at Avatron was above board with all in the community and getting to know everyone.”

Avatron officials hoped to ride the wave of popularity from the Hunger Games, which shot the second, third and fourth films in the series, in Georgia.

Georgia has become a hub for film and television production, trailing only California and New York in the U.S.

The developers said they were working on other content as well, including discussions with toy manufacturers and video game studios, but that Lionsgate would be the exclusive film partner.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Cutting property taxes tough, but possible

Founding Father Benjamin Franklin is quoted as saying: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” But when it comes to property taxes, there’s likely still a way for you to change the outcome for this year. In all Georgia counties except Gwinnett, you still have time to appeal your assessment, though...
UPS strikes joint venture with Chinese firm
UPS strikes joint venture with Chinese firm

Sandy Springs-based UPS has struck a deal for a joint venture with Chinese logistics company SF Holding. UPS expects the partnership with SF Holding, the parent company of Chinese express logistics firm SF Express, to allow it to grow international deliveries from China to the United States and eventually to other destinations. The joint...
Thousands of travelers fill Hartsfield-Jackson for Memorial Day trips
Thousands of travelers fill Hartsfield-Jackson for Memorial Day trips

With tens of thousands of travelers heading to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport for Memorial Day trips, some security lines were long but moved quickly Friday morning. The Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of the busy summer travel season. Friday is expected to be the busiest day of the holiday travel weekend, according to the...
How a concrete company saved Atlanta’s commute
How a concrete company saved Atlanta’s commute

A soft rain peppered the worker’s orange safety vest and hard hat, but didn’t come close to snuffing the blue-flamed torch in his right hand. He signaled with his left to three other men also holding torches at intervals along the line of newly minted concrete girders. All the men leaned down, aimed their torches and burned through several...
Kempner: Radioactive question looms over Georgia’s nuclear mess at Vogtle
Kempner: Radioactive question looms over Georgia’s nuclear mess at Vogtle

Georgia’s nuclear mess is about to get way messier now that the chief contractor on the Plant Vogtle expansion has fled to bankruptcy court. So a new race is underway to see who can nab enough bubble wrap to insulate themselves from a fresh round of costly shocks. So far, Georgia Power has sidestepped virtually all of the financial reckoning...
More Stories