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In ‘The Founder,’ Atlanta stands in for Midwestern McDonald’s restaurants

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Avondale Estates, East Lake make appearances in new Micheal Keaton flick

Movie clip with Ray Croc standing arms outstreached in front of a 1950s McDonald’s.
Minnesota may be McDonald’s country, but Minnesota is actually Atlanta.
The Founder

Atlanta and most cities of the Midwest have very little in common. But when filming the movie The Founder, director John Lee Hancock somehow made Atlanta a stand-in for a range of cities.

The movie that came out this week chronicling the founding of McDonald’s is a story heavy on Minnesota, but filmed in Atlanta.

The Christian Science Monitor details how production designer Michael Corenblith worked some movie magic to transport audiences from the Peach State to the Gopher State (we clearly lucked out on the nickname thing).

Over the course of just a month, a purpose-built fake McDonald’s — designed to look like the original 1955 structure in Des Plaines — was constructed in Atlanta. From there, the structure was adapted, over and over again, to represent the spread of the fast food restaurant across the Midwest, and the entire country.

Corenblith told The Christian Science Monitor, “When you see Schaumburg, when you see Minneapolis, when you see all the McDonald's from around the country, those are subtle reworkings of only one set.”

The trick? Repainting the parking lots to orient the cars differently.

It turns out the McDonald’s restaurants aren’t the only things faked. Ray Kroc’s Chicago home is instead an Avondale Estates house, while the East Lake Golf Club stands in for a country club in Chicago.

The phenomenon is really nothing new; thanks to tax credits, Atlanta has gained the distinction of being Hollywood of the South.

Downtown, John Portman’s buildings have served as the backdrop for a range of films, including The Hunger Games, while The Walking Dead has brought zombies to Grant Park and seemingly everywhere else.

Goes to show, don’t always believe what’s in the movies.