If you watched even half an episode of Stranger Things's third season, there's a good chance you took in the nostalgia bomb that is the Starcourt Mall. The sci-fi series may be all about a small town terrorized by an otherworldly creature, and the band of pesky meddling kids—including one with telekinetic powers—who make it their mission to thwart it (and, you know, save the world). But Hawkins, Indiana's Starcourt Mall might as well be a character on its own—it's that much of a scene-stealer.
Without giving anything away (what? You spent your July 4th weekend grilling out, watching fireworks and socializing with other human beings?!), let's just say it's a critical part of the season 3 plot, and not just because it's where Steve "the Hair" Harrington works after not getting into college. The mall looks like a perfect time capsule of the '80s, featuring stores no longer with us—RIP, Waldenbooks and Sam Goody—and plenty of others decked out with their former logos, lots of neon, and even vintage cash registers and Orange Julius machines, keeping it true to the era. It seemed more realistic than anything a soundstage could produce, which is a credit to the production team's work—and because the Starcourt Mall is an actual place.
That's right. The Starcourt Mall is actually the Gwinnett Place Mall in Duluth, GA. An empty wing of the mall was closed off and rebuilt as Starcourt, according to . "Everything you see in season 3 is real, which allowed for big, long continuous takes from outside to inside, etc. But if you walked 50 yards in one direction, there were actual real 2019 people shopping at contemporary stores. So it was very surreal," executive producer Shawn Levy told the magazine.
Though filming took place in Spring 2018, some of the fake storefronts are still standing, though if you visit the mall, you probably won't be able to pose for selfies with them—curtains block your view of the remaining set, and security guards keep the wing where filming took place off-limits, the reported.
Previously, the mall had a much darker association: Back in December 2017, a 19-year-old was found dead at a vacant Subway restaurant in the food court, which had been shut down. She had gone missing two months earlier, and she was believed to have been killed in the mall, according to the . Filming for Stranger Things's third season took place in late Spring 2018.
Twitter users have said the mall's , following the season's release on Netflix. Though the mall hasn't lost all of the vestiges of its Starcourt propping, Gwinnett Place may not be around for long—in February 2019, reports surfaced that CricRealty Co. Atlanta LLC was under contract to acquire nearly all of the mall's stores. If the sale goes through, the , combining storefronts with a stadium seating 20,000, designed for watching cricket.
Fans have their own ideas for the mall, with some hoping on Twitter that it'll become a Stranger Things museum or open an Upside-Down-themed escape room.
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