See Where Masterminds Was Filmed and Dine Like a Star

Glen Wilson for Relativity MediaSee Where Masterminds Was Filmed and Dine Like a Star

Masterminds offers a comedic look at a real-life bank heist that occurred in North Carolina, and the movie was filmed here

It’s hard not to start laughing as soon as you learn of the cast starring in Masterminds, including The Hangover hero Zach Galifianakis, Owen Wilson and Saturday Night Live stalwarts Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Jason Sudeikis and Kate McKinnon (you’ll recall the ladies also starred in the Ghostbusters remake). Film buffs and lovers of visiting movie locations will also smile when they discover the many ways there are to experience Masterminds in real – and reel – life.

Opening in theaters Sept. 30, the comedy is based on a not-so-funny true story, in which several North Carolinians pulled off a heist of $17 million from the Loomis Fargo armored car company’s vault in Charlotte in 1997. The movie takes many liberties with actual events, which is often where the comedic flair comes in. Cast and crew alike enjoyed filming in North Carolina – primarily in the Asheville area – and took advantage of many local attractions, restaurants, bars and more.

With no spoiler alert needed, here are several ways to relive the infamous heist and the making of the movie.

Read All About It
Brush up on the true story of the bank heist before you head out to discover film locations and attractions the cast and crew explored while filming in our state. Interesting fact: The $17 million dollars the robbers stole nearly 20 years ago would be the inflation-equivalent of $25 million today.

Film Locations in Asheville

Pack Square Park
Bustling Pack Square Park made several 1997-throwback cameos in the film and remains a magnet in downtown Asheville today with wandering troubadours, festivals, theater and lots of events for family outings. Moviegoers will recognize Pack Square in several Masterminds scenes, including one from a trailer with Bomba coffee shop in the background.

Pack Square Park in downtown Asheville

Live musicians, theatre performances and festivals are a common scene at Pack Square Park

BB&T Building
Located at 1 West Pack Square, the iconic 18-story BB&T building (downtown Asheville’s tallest) is slated to transform into a hotel, condos and dining in coming years. For the film it was disguised as Charlotte’s “Park Street Citizens Bank” as a stand-in for Loomis Fargo.

U.S. Cellular Center
Situated nearby at 87 Haywood Street, the U.S. Cellular Center is a 7,600-seat, multi-purpose arena that was transformed into a Mexican airport for the film. So, you won’t see planes flying in out of this venue in real life, but you can see concerts, comedy shows and stage plays.

Waynesville Area
The bucolic mountain town of Waynesville, about 30 miles west of Asheville, served as the backdrop for numerous scenes in the film, including several private residences and a mansion. It’s a great choice for a weekend away, with a revitalized downtown featuring farm-to-table restaurants and four breweries. Popular natural attractions in the area include Pisgah National Forest, Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, all of which are majestic in the fall.

Kayaking on Lake Junaluska

Lake Junaluska is located in Haywood County just outside of Waynesville

Old Fort
On the opposite side of Asheville is the small town of Old Fort, where the Masterminds cast and crew used the old Ethan Allen warehouse on Commerce Street behind the police station for action scenes. Old Fort Elementary School was the base for catering services, though Galifianakis enjoyed breakfast from Java Junction as well. Wilson also paid a visit to Old Fort’s Mountain Gateway Museum.

Eat, Drink and Be Merry (Like a Movie Star)

The actors and crew obviously loved filming and eating in Asheville. Owen Wilson and Jason Sudeikis went for a wood-fired masterpiece at All Souls Pizza, while Zach Galifianakis couldn’t resist the ‘cue at 12 Bones Smokehouse. Kristen Wiig went to Cúrate Bar de Tapas (and so much more) and Farm Burger – and then proceeded to rave about the restaurant scene on The Late Show. The film’s producer and Saturday Night Live creator, Lorne Michaels, was spotted at Cucina 24 and The Market Place Restaurant & Lounge and, last, but not least, Posana’s gluten-free options also played a starring role with several cast members.

12 Bones Smokehouse

All dishes at 12 Bones Smokehouse are made from scratch, including from old family recipes

Several of the stars toasted filming in North Carolina, imbibing beers at Lexington Avenue Brewery and out at classic McCormick Field for Thirsty Thursday at an Asheville Tourists minor league baseball game. They were also drawn to the creative cocktails at Lex 18 and The Imperial Life, as Asheville continues to expand its craft beverage options beyond beer. For instance, Wilson enjoyed freshly brewed coffee at the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar at Grove Arcade, where thousands of used books complement the drink menu.

Lex 18 in Asheville

Lex 18

Lex 18 is housed in a century-old building that was a speakeasy during the Prohibition era

Though the bustling and oh-so-eclectic River Arts District didn’t make it into the film, Wilson did head here for the “RAD” Farmers Market on Wednesdays. The district is fun to visit every day of the week with more than 200 artist studios and galleries, dining at White Duck Taco Shop, The Junction, Clingman Café and more, plus tasty beers and frequent live music at Wedge Brewing Company.

Wiig went for more relaxing options, including time in the sensory deprivation tank at Still Point Wellness and meditating in the Asheville Salt Cave. Located just an hour from downtown Asheville, but a world away, Sliding Rock also proved irresistible for Wilson, where the natural 60-foot waterslide has become a North Carolina bucket list item.

Lynn and Cele Seldon were based on the North Carolina coast for 13 years and are currently "mid-fifties gypsies" in search of their next chapter.


There’s much to see and do in North Carolina, so read on.

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