The little town of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, has gone Hollywood — or at least it seems that way to locals and visitors.
That’s because it’s the site of filming for “Gone Girl,” a feature film based on the 2012 bestselling novel by Gillian Flynn. The thriller has an all-star cast that includes Ben Affleck, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry and Rosamund Pike, as well as a celebrity producer, Reese Witherspoon, and it is being directed by David Fincher (“Se7en,” “The Social Network”).
Fincher chose the town of 37,000 as a stand-in for the fictional city of North Carthage, Missouri, because it has a picturesque downtown with attractive historic buildings, as well as its location near the Mississippi River.
“Gone Girl” centers on the troubled marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne (Affleck and Pike) who move back to his Missouri home town after he loses his job. Amy Dunne disappears on their fifth anniversary, sparking an intense search. Although no body is found, her husband becomes the main suspect in her disappearance.
Crews have been busy in Cape Girardeau, transforming a vacant downtown location into “The Bar,” the watering hole that the Dunns decide to take over after moving there. Filming has been ongoing since mid-September.
Shop owners in town have had visits from members of the film’s crew and are thrilled to share the news about “Gone Girl” with tourists. However, many visitors to Cape Girardeau didn’t come to see the filming, but are more interested in the area’s history.
Cape Girardeau is one of the oldest settlements in this region. Established in 1733 as a trading post, it became an important river port in the mid-1800s. It also played a vital role in Civil War history, with the Battle of Cape Girardeau fought there in 1863. Today, the town boasts several museums of local history as well as numerous antiques shops and downtown boutiques, and is the location of Southeast Missouri State University.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Fincher decided to extend filming in Cape Girardeau because of its unique geography. Producer Cean Chaffin told the newspaper that the book is “fairly specific about the kind of community where the husband lives,” and Fincher is a “stickler for accuracy.”
Chaffin said that staying true to the novel by Gillian Flynn required a shooting locale with a historic downtown and access to the Mississippi River.
Shooting is expected to last through the end of October 2013. “Gone Girl” is expected to be in movie theaters in 2014, according to the Internet Movie Database.