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

Warren Buffett, the Oracle of … Atlanta?
Warren Buffett, the Oracle of … Atlanta?

Warren Buffett’s ties to Atlanta have gotten tighter. The Oracle of Omaha, a famously loyal Coca-Cola shareholder with a 9.3 percent stake, now also owns 7.5 percent of Delta Air Lines. Both Atlanta giants are among the most valuable investments held by Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., which owns some companies and has stakes in many...
SEC’s Atlanta office: Illegal overseas trading scheme nets $3.6 million
SEC’s Atlanta office: Illegal overseas trading scheme nets $3.6 million

Investigators at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s Atlanta office said Tuesday that they obtained freezes on two overseas accounts holding more than $3.6 million in alleged illegal profits from insider trading. The money, in two accounts in London and Singapore, stem from allegedly illegal profiteering on inside information that traders...
What Woodward Academy employees say

Woodward Academy I look forward to coming in to work each day to teach students that are excited to learn, and I also know I have the support of the administration to modify the curriculum as needed to meet the needs of the students. I also know the administration will always be supportive of the teachers, which is a welcome feeling. The pay is great...
What you should do if the IRS breaks the rules
What you should do if the IRS breaks the rules

Most people know that breaking tax rules, even accidentally, can bring serious consequences like an audit. It may seem like a one-way street, but the IRS has to follow rules, too. Here’s what three tax attorneys say you should know. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which the IRS adopted in 2014, summarizes taxpayer rights scattered throughout...
Woodward Academy: Q&A with visual arts teacher Andy Cunningham

Andy Cunningham finds it strange to say out loud that he’s worked for Woodward Academy for 32 years. When he joined the city’s oldest private college preparatory school in 1985, he had no plan to be a high school teacher. Cunningham, who holds a bachelor’s degree and MFA from Georgia State University, was the first black male on faculty...
More Stories