A guide to North Carthage: 18 'Gone Girl' movie filming locations in the Cape Girardeau region
First off, the movie "Gone Girl" is fiction. The main characters of Nick and Amy Dunne are made up, and the town of North Carthage, Missouri, the film portrays does not exist.
However, the locations shown in the "Gone Girl" movie indeed are real, and most are in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and not built in the back of a Hollywood studio lot. Flynn said she had Cape Girardeau in mind when she wrote the best-selling novel and, later, the screenplay. And Oscar-nominated director David Fincher and his producers were so pleased with Cape Girardeau, they extended "Gone Girl's" shooting schedule there from three to six weeks.
Below is a list of verified "Gone Girl" movie filming locations in Cape Girardeau and Southern Illinois where actors Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Tyler Perry, Neil Patrick Harris and more were. (More may be added to --- or subtracted from -- the list once the final cut of the film premieres in theaters.) The list of visually accessible shooting locales was compiled from the Southeast Missourian, cast members, the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitor's Bureau and the "Gone Girl Filming in Cape Girardeau" Facebook page.
The Bar, 119 Themis St. (map) -- The former Socials Cafe & Catering became a focal point of a lot of "Gone Girl" filming in Cape Girardeau. Weeks before Fincher and his cameras arrived, crews gave the closed restaurant a huge face-lift and converted it into Nick Dunne's tavern, including a new neon sign. Months later, the property's new owner availed himself of the makeover; he plans to reopen The Bar as a bar, naturally, about the time "Gone Girl" hits theaters.
The Bar also serves as a center for several "Gone Girl" filming locations in downtown just a short walking distance away.
Common Pleas Courthouse, 44 N. Lorimier St. (map) -- Perhaps the most prominent landmark in the area, the courthouse has stood since 1854 on one of the highest points in the city, overlooking downtown. Still used as a courthouse, its grounds also have served as a dungeon for Civil War prisoners, a site for slave auctions, and a spot for church revivals. The Common Pleas Courthouse was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010. On the west side of the grounds stands a century-old fountain dedicated by the Women's Relief Corps in memory of Civil War soldiers.
The steps of the Common Pleas Courthouse are directly across the street from The Bar. Those terraces served as a place for spectators to watch much of "Gone Girl's" filming. In one scene, artificial snow covered the terraces and grounds to simulate a winter's day near The Bar, although freezing weather was still weeks away.
Common Pleas Courthouse gazebo, 44 N. Lorimier St. (map) -- On the north side of the courthouse grounds, the gazebo was used in a "Gone Girl" scene where Nick Dunne addresses a crowd during a candlelight vigil for missing Amy Dunne. In real life, the gazebo has served as a music venue for generations of Cape Girardeau residents, including on most Friday evenings during the summer. Although the gazebo's roof has been replaced several times, the octagonal stage remains the same as when it opened in 1922.
Riverfront Park, Water and Themis streets (map) -- Two blocks east of The Bar and through a floodgate is Riverfront Park, a trail and boat-docking area that faces the mighty Mississippi River. This area of the park and river are prominently seen in the "Gone Girl" trailer and movie poster. It also a great place to watch Old Man River and passing barges. If you're lucky, you might see a big riverboat dock there; Cape Girardeau is a regular stopping point for several old-school steamboats such as the Delta Queen.
During periods of high water, the floodgates may be closed. On the floodgate's side, check the river's high-water marks -- including the mind-boggling Flood of 1993 -- to comprehend how important the flood-protection system is to downtown.
Old bridge overlook, South Spanish and Morgan Oak streets (map) -- "Gone Girl" film crews spent a little time filming at the remnants of the Cape Girardeau Bridge that connected Illinois from 1928 until 2003, when the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge opened. The old bridge was demolished the next year, but the entrance to the bridge was left standing as a scenic spot to view the river. Incidentally, the old bridge's entrance shows a date of 1927 because that's when its construction started.
Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge (map) -- This striking cable-stayed bridge -- used in at least one "Gone Girl" scene, when Amy Dunne leaves town -- opened in 2003. It's wider than its predecessor, and provides a picturesque backdrop for downtown when looking to the south. The bridge was named after an eight-term congressman from Missouri.
Southeast Missouri State University River Campus, 518 S. Fountain St. (map) -- The campus and a nearby walking trail close to the Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge was used in at least one scene about Amy Dunne. The campus' southeast lawn provides a great view of the river and the bridge, and students often are seen lounging on it during nice days. A nearby gazebo holds historical information about the bridges and the nearby St. Vincent's Seminary building.
Rhodes 101, 546 S. Sprigg St. (map) -- A scene was filmed outside the store primarily because Amy Dunne used a pay phone there. Pay phones are an endangered species in the cellular age, but the one at the Rhodes 101 -- a regional convenience-store chain -- still works. If you have a quarter, you can still make a local call.
Old federal building, 339 Broadway (map) -- The former federal courthouse was converted into the North Carthage Police Department for the film, where Nick Dunne spent many an uncomfortable hour. The courthouse was dedicated in 1967 and closed shortly after a new federal courthouse in Cape Girardeau opened in 2010. A city councilman bought the building a few months after "Gone Girl" wrapped; it's now an office building.
Drury Lodge, 104 S. Vantage Drive (map) -- The hotel -- its name subtly changed in the film to Drury Hotels North Carthage -- was used for scenes involving a command center for Amy Dunne's search. Several "Gone Girl" crew members also stayed at the hotel during filming.
Private residence, 2404 Albert Rasche Drive (map) -- This residence served as the home of Nick Dunne's twin sister Margo, better known as Go. Remember, this is private property. You lawfully can take a photo of it from the street, but going on the property uninvited is trespassing.
Private residence, 3014 Keystone Drive (map) -- This served as Nick and Amy Dunne's rented home after they moved to North Carthage from New York City. During filming, nearby homeowners were asked to not mow their lawns for several weeks to give the appearance of a neighborhood decimated by foreclosures during the recession. This is a private residence, and the neighbors now all mow their lawns regularly.
Private residence, 831 Ranney Ave. (map) -- This location served as the home of Nick Dunne's ailing father. In the "Gone Girl" trailer, you can see Nick's lawyer, portrayed by Tyler Perry, preparing to go into the house. You also can see the bridge in the background. Again, this is a private residence.
Wooded area, near Edgewood Road and William Street (map) -- This patch of timber on a hill west of Edgewood Road next to William Street was used in a scene where a search party looks for Amy. The area can be seen in several trailers for the film and other promotional footage. Fincher, seemingly oblivious to the danger, directed the scene on the shoulder of the perpetually busy William Street as traffic whizzed by.
Budget Inn Motel and Restaurant, 1448 N. Kingshighway (map) -- For three days, film crews used the parking lot to shoot a scene. The motel is still operating. The restaurant on the premises is better-known as the Sands Pancake House. It's served hearty breakfasts to locals for decades and is one of the few places that serves fried bologna.
Arena Golf, 2901 Hawthorne Road (map) -- "Gone Girl" crews used the miniature golf course for a scene. The course was remodeled two years ago, and users say it's challenging for even the best putters. An 18-hole putt-putt round will cost you six bucks.
Thebes Boat Ramp, Second Street, Thebes, Illinois (map) -- This small Illinois town on the edge of the Mississippi River was used for a scene where a search party looked for the missing Amy. Also, an image in one of the "Gone Girl" movie posters used the vantage point of the river from Thebes. Nearby is the 1905 Thebes Bridge (used by the railroad only), and up the hill is the 1848 Thebes Courthouse, now a local museum.
Giant City State Park Lodge, 460 Giant City Lodge Road, Makanda, Illinois (map) -- "Gone Girl's" crews spent a week shooting at this Southern Illinois landmark. The complex served as a stand-in for Amy Dunne's stay at a Missouri Ozarks campground. The rustic stone lodge, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the 1930s, was used in a scene, as was the outdoor pool. And a housekeeper informed us interior scenes also were shot in Cabin No. 23.
Images by Emily Priddy, Ron Warnick and other Southeast Missourian staff. Screen captures of "Gone Girl" scenes come from movie trailers.