RICHMOND, Va. State tourism officials are inviting fans of film and history to walk in the footsteps of Steven Spielberg and his Lincoln stars at the Virginia Capitol, the Confederate White House and the Dixie Restaurant in Petersburg, where the menu includes the Spielburger.
The Lincoln Movie Trail made its debut last month as the state tourism office launched a website and self-guided tour of the locations used by Spielberg and his all-star cast in his epic about the nations 16th president. The movie, the third hes made in Virginia, was filmed entirely in the state and primarily in Richmond and Petersburg.
The trail got a Hollywood-style launch on the South Portico of the Capitol, which was transformed for the film into the White House and U.S. Capitol, with Lincoln look-alikes on Segways, large posters with Lincolns hirsute likeness, the message Lincoln was here and a spitting image of the great man: David Foster was Daniel Day-Lewis stand-in during the film.
Ive been doing this for 23 years, said Foster, who spent 47 of 53 days on the Lincoln set in the shadow of Day-Lewis. Its been a hobby.
The tourism promotion is intended to tap into a growing revenue stream for Virginia: filmmaking. The industrys total economic impact was up 14.5 percent to more than $394 million in 2011. It also contributed nearly $60 million in state and local tax revenue.
Mindful of history and star power, tourism officials are banking on the movie attracting visitors for years to come.
This trail is great because basically you walk in President Lincolns footsteps, you can walk in Daniel Day-Lewis footsteps and Steven Spielbergs footsteps, said Jennifer H. Carnam of the Richmond Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau.
City hotels are offering Lincoln packages, and some attractions are giving discounts to visitors who provide a ticket stub from the movie, Carnam said.
The tour offers a blend of Hollywood and history, with Richmond standing in for Washington, D.C., and historic Petersburg portraying itself.
Lincoln spent a good deal of the final days of the Civil War in both cities. As emancipated people cheered, he famously walked the streets of the smoldering former capital of the Confederacy in April 1865 as it fell to Union forces. Lincoln also spent about two weeks in Petersburg, home to the longest military siege on American soil. Its architecture still bears the scars of the war, including cannonballs embedded in brick facades.
Much of the filming in Petersburg was held within a couple blocks of Charlie Rawlings Dixie Restaurant. He concocted the Spielburger at the behest of one of the filmmakers aides. Its a variation on the restaurants signature chili dogs.
He said he really enjoyed it, said Rawlings, who got the burgers review from Spielbergs aide. The director took the burger on the set.
In Richmond, sightings were common of Day-Lewis, Sally Field, who portrays Mary Todd Lincoln, and other actors such as David Strathairn, Tommy Lee Jones and James Spader, who regularly was seen shopping along Cary Street, a trendy stretch of shops and restaurants.
The movie trail includes restaurants where the stars were seen eating in Petersburg and Richmond, as well as attractions such as Maymont in Richmond. The 100-acre Victorian estate overlooking the James River was transformed into Appomattox for Lincoln.
We hope that with the trail, people will come and visit Maymont and recognize some of the scenes, spokeswoman Cathie Rosenberg said.
Maymont is offering discounts to visitors who want to re-enact a carriage ride Day-Lewis and Field took on the grounds. In Petersburg, the locations include a barbecue restaurant, an antique store and historic buildings. The city is complementing the trail with its own walks retracing Lincolns steps.
The trail will include posters with Lincolns likeness and the words Lincoln was here.
Rita McClenny, president and CEO of Virginia Tourism Corp., said the state is one of the stars of the film and her office already has seen an uptick in interest from Lincoln.
Spielberg filmed the War of the Worlds remake and Minority Report in Virginia, and he told McClenny that Lincoln was not his last film trip to Virginia.
He likes us, she said. I think its the whole experience. And he said when he left, Ill be back.