(But What Happened to the Billboards?)
As many of us already know, the “Three Billboards” that gave this critically-acclaimed movie its name were erected right here in the Swannanoa Valley, off North Fork Road. Residents drove by the billboards for days as crews filmed scenes for the movie, which starred Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell. Although the billboards feature prominently in ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri’, no one knew at the time that the movie would become such a hit, eventually walking away with the Golden Globe for Best Picture – Drama, and Oscars for actors Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell.
According to a recent John Boyle “Answer Man” column in the Asheville Citizen-Times, the three billboards, which were built out of heavy-duty plywood by a Sylva-based company, were no longer needed once filming concluded. The movie production company technically had ownership of the billboards, but had no use for them. Enter Arden resident David Penix, who had been hired to drive prop makers during the movie’s filming. Penix needed some plywood for a carport he was building to cover a camper he kept in Tennessee, and the billboards seemed like just the ticket. Penix cut the billboards in pieces for transport, then randomly patched the pieces back together for his carport, covering the plywood with metal roofing material. So if anyone asks, that’s where the famous billboards ended up!
The Answer Man column quotes Penix as saying “Had I known the movie was going to take off like it did, I probably would’ve kept them.”