The Cartersville three-story brick homeplace will serve as an orphanage in the film, which is set for release in 2012. Directed by brothers Bobby and Peter Farrelly, the movie will highlight the slapstick antics of Curly, Moe and Larry, portrayed by Will Sasso, Chris Diamantopoulos and Sean Hayes, respectively.
"It's for a lot of early scenes in the film and we also are building sound stage interiors ... [A] movie is a visual medium," said the film's publicity coordinator Ernie Malik, when explaining why the Cartersville site was selected. "Even though this is a contemporary film, that location has a period feel to it. It's the look of that building and the land surrounding it that just matched what the script called for."
For Lehmann Smith, who is one of the property's managers, the home is a historic gem.
"The house is called the Ryals-Davis Home, and it's on 300 acres," he said. "The home was originally built in the late 1850s. Dr. Ryals -- he and his family built the home. During the Civil War, it was used as a small hospital. That's why [Union soldiers] didn't burn [the building]. They were using the facility and did not end up burning [it].
"J.L. Davis and his wife ... bought the homeplace there back in the 1950s, and they completely restored the home back to the best they could to the original way it was. They completed it in, I think, 1963, and they moved in that home and lived there until both of their deaths. The Jefferson Davis family owns the whole property [now]."
Previously featured in the 1990s Steve Martin movie "A Simple Twist of Fate," the Cartersville residence is no stranger to the film industry. Along with the movies, it also has been utilized in various made-for-TV films.
"This is a historical piece of property that borders the Etowah River and Old Alabama Road and the airport and Woodland High School, and it's been in the family from the 1950s," Smith said. "They invested and came and took over the property and renovated the home [and] felt it [was] very important to try and maintain a nice facility like this homeplace. We do have cattle on the property, and the home is on the National Registry.
"So we feel like it's an investment in this community, who's [also] been able to benefit with this film industry. I know they've brought in a lot of props and people [who] may be staying at some of the local hotels. So there is something to benefit from by having [a site] like that in Bartow County."
Echoing Smith's sentiments, Regina Wheeler -- deputy director for the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau -- said there are various advantages to working with the entertainment industry. Currently, the CVB is responding to at least two inquires a month concerning filming locations. Throughout the years, Bartow has served as a backdrop for many films and TV shows, such as "Mosquito Coast" and "I'll Fly Away."
"There's just numerous reasons that people come here," Wheeler said, referring to the diverseness of Bartow's landscape and architecture, as well as its proximity to Atlanta. "We have a lot of picturesque, beautiful historical settings that just lend themselves to a lot of subject matter. What we always hope for in terms of getting a location shoot is that image-building [film]. We want that 'Driving Miss Daisy' kind of film or [another example is] 'Forrest Gump' putting Savannah on the map. They basically had to retire the bench that Forrest Gump sat on because it was such a popular location there at one of their squares.
"So you do -- you hope for image building. But a lot of times we just sort of blend in. ... Residents may know [the scene was shot in Bartow] but to other people it could be anywhere USA. What we gain without a doubt from our location shoots is people coming using caterers, using our restaurants, staying overnight. It does bring money into the area. So we of course are always looking for opportunities to do that. That's why we are in business. But ideally, ultimately, we would love to eventually land that key film that's going to go down in history and be purchased on DVD [in] every home and really be a memorable, put us on the map kind of location."