Thursday, May 10, 2018

[EXCLUSIVE] Netflix Series Stranger Things to Film at Gwinnett Place Mall

Something special is happening at Gwinnett Place Mall.  Known as a "dead mall," given its large number of empty storefronts, new stores have opened in the mall, a number of which are national chains.  The mall is buzzing with activity and there were more stores expected soon.  This is all true, but all the activity and new stores are only temporary, as the popular Netflix series Stranger Things will be filming at the mall, renamed "Starcourt Mall" for the production.

Built in 1984 by Simon Property Group, Gwinnett Place was sold to Moonbeam Capital Investments in late 2013.  While a number of redevelopment plans have been floated, not much has been done to the mall in years, making it a seemingly ideal place to shoot an 80s era TV show.

Stranger Things, which debuted in July 2016, set its first season in November 1983 in a small Indiana town.  The second season begins in October 1984, with season three expected to begin in July 1985, against the backdrop of the release of Back to the Future.


The mall entrance between Beauty Master (former JCPenney) and the old Belk was repainted, as was the exterior around the entrance and the Gwinnett Place Mall sign was replaced with signage for Starcourt Mall. The Beauty Master wing is one of the deadest of the mall, with basically no stores left in business aside from the giant beauty supply store.  The crew replaced the Beauty Master sign on the lower level with JCPenney signage and turned a  portion of the second floor Beauty Master space into a movie theater.  There are additional Starcourt Mall branded signs and decorations throughout the Beauty Master wing and around the food court.  

New 80s era food court signage was installed with more elements of the food court still coming soon, judging from the flurry of activity and tarps in the area.  




The flooring on the second floor has been replaced with red carpet, and retro wood planters and benches were added as well, to create a true 1980s mall experience.

Set designers have spent the past couple of weeks painstakingly recreating the mall as a popular 1985 destination, complete with retailers of the era, including Radio Shack, Spencer's, Chess King, the gap, Waldenbooks,  Claire's JCPenney, JCPenney Home Store, Zales, Sam Goody and Wicks "N" Sticks, among others.  The mall also features restaurants Wyatt's Cafeteria, Burger King, Orange Julius, The Ground Round and a coming soon Taco Bell as well as a Time-Out arcade and jazzercise studio.  






While popular 80s movies that involved memorable mall scenes like Blues Brothers (1980),Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) and Weird Science (1985), among others, were filmed in the era in which they were set, the producers of Stranger Things likely had to make or purchase all the signage, merchandise and fixtures being used in their set.  

Most of the stores have actual merchandise in them with the Time-Out arcade full of seemingly real 80s games.  

A former Ruby Tuesday restaurant near the side entrance that got the Starcourt treatment was not yet given a new name but it could easy be turned back into the former mall staple if need be.  
The former Ruby Tuesday 

A casting call posted Tuesday for Stranger Things that identifies the mall by name, describes the filming location as "approx 30 mins north east of the ATL Perimeter, (about 1 hr from central Atlanta)" and seeks "1980’s Mall Patrons" for filming on May 14,15,16 and 18.  

The pay ain't great ($75 for 8 hours), but the series is looking for anyone ages 18-100 so if you have the time, and you enjoy the series and old retail, it might be a fun day.  

This is at least the second time the mall has been used as a filming location.  Last year's award winning film I, Tonya, (starring Margo Robbie) which followed the life of figure skater Tonya Harding, filmed at least one scene at the mall early last year.  
A scene from I, Tonya in Gwinnett Place Mall

ToNeTo Atlanta would like to thank Paul of kmartworld.com for tipping us off to this retail time warp and for allowing us to use some of the photos he captured. 

Are you a fan of the Stranger Things series?  What is the one store or restaurant of the 80s you wish still existed?  Do you plan to be an extra in the series just to experience Gwinnett Place Mall as a lively mall once more?

Please share your thoughts below.  


*PSA* 19 year old Georgia State University student Silling A. Man was found dead behind an abandoned Subway restaurant in the Gwinnett Place Mall food court this past December.  There has been no public update on her death since February and her death has not been ruled a homicide.  If you know anything about the circumstances of her death, call Gwinnett County Police Department at 770-513-5300. 

25 comments:

Alonso Castillo said...

I'd like to be a part of the Gwinnett Place Mall extras. 8)
I live like 10 minutes way, so let me know if I need to bring 80's snacks...

Bill Cate said...

If Radio Shack needs a manager, I was one for 5 years. One of my old stores was in that mall!!!!!

Katy said...

Can we walk around the mall this weekend to see it?

Anonymous said...

Hello

fernando orozco said...

It will be sweet to an extra!

Alejandra Coronado said...

I used to work at the mall a while back and would love to come back. I live 5min away from the mall :)

Carol Hixon said...

Wow! I am from Duluth and spent my complete 80's teenage years at Gwinnett Place Mall. I worked at so many stores in that mall, holds fond memories. The only time I go now is to run into VS or Bath & Body Works/Express on my way home. Such a shame it has fallen into such a sad state. At least the film industry gives it new life. I still remember singing in chorus concert in the atrium...wow...time flies.

Unknown said...

Sam Goody? I worked at Camelot Music in that mall... we always did better business, lol

Samantha Martin said...

I would like to see what it's like to shop doing the 80's.

Heatherloves138 said...

Yes Camelot music was way better!! I loved this mall lol

Anonymous said...

K.B. toy store needs to be added

Anonymous said...

Time Warp for me completely. To have grown up here and see it again with all the old stores, like new! Mind Blowing!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes Carol! Oh I have the same memories as well. It has been very sad to see what has become of that mall that so many of us grew up in. About 5 years ago we had to go to that Sears about a fridge problem. Since we had to wait, we walked around and saw how the Food Court was all boarded up. It saddened me. I would love to see it looking like the 80's!

NinjaLokiPig said...

Mannn... I was just in this bitch looking for some mcdonalds and Stranger Things had to ruin my fucking trip. If they don't knock it the fuck off with their video shoot lookin ass

Nick said...

They had the area of the set blocked off today when I went. Also a whole bunch of extras auditioning I think.

Theresa Allen said...

Cool

Unknown said...

I wonder if they know about the dead person they found in the abandoned Subway in the food court back in December

G.G. said...

Oh, this is ridiculous. Twenty-odd years ago, my friends and I got thrown out of Gwinnett Place Mall for making a movie, and now they invite Stranger Things?

Okay, sure, we didn't have permits and we were dragging around a prop "dead body" without approval, but early nineties mall cops, man, they were the worst.

Unknown said...

I'd like to be an extra and my best friend wants to as well. When would the last day be for auditioning as an extra? And are we obligated to be there for all the days of filming?

Little momee said...

I remember eating at the MAGIC PAN! I hope they don't leave it out! Downstairs near MACYS!

Toolemacc said...

I'm not gonna lie, I was a kiddo in the 80's and I always liked the candy store and the arcade. In the 90's I remember playing mortal kombat there because that wasn't allowed in my house.

Anonymous said...

My first job was there at a card shop called Social Expressions. Would head to the food court on my breaks to eat Arby’s or the Chick Fil A on the second level near the escalator.

Sarah Smith said...

Can you just show up to be an extra? Or no?

Unknown said...

How can you be an extra, this would be cool. My old hang out in the 80s..

Joyce Hosseini said...

I love this series. I want to be an extra.

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