Is Hawthorne Island real? The Menu's 'exclusive' filming location explored

Eve Edwards January 4, 2023
Is Hawthorne Island real? The Menu's 'exclusive' filming location explored

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As The Menu arrives on HBO Max this January, viewers are tuning into the delectable but deadly feast that takes place on Hawthorne Island.

Having released in theatres on November 18, 2022, The Menu now gets its streaming premiere. The movie arrived on HBO Max this January 3.

The dark comedy horror, written by Seth Reiss and Will Tracy, follows a couple (Anya Taylor-Joy and Nicholas Hoult) who make their voyage to Hawthorne Island. This is the location of an exclusive restaurant helmed by celebrity chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes).

With stunning settings and a menu to die for, it’s no surprise that viewers are intrigued to find out where the movie was filmed. Let’s take a look at the setting of Hawthorne Island.

Screenshot from Disney+, The Menu

Where is The Menu filmed?

Filming for The Menu predominantly took place in Savannah, Georgia. It commenced on September 3, 2021.

Although the main action of the film takes place in one location, the restaurant on Hawthorne Island, additional filming was done in Georgia.

Some of the other confirmed filming locations include Ft McAllister State Park, World Trade Center Atlanta, Skidaway Island Community Gardens, Hampton Island Retreat, Jekyll Island’s Driftwood Beach, and most importantly, Tybee Island.

So, is Hawthorne Island a real place?

No, unfortunately for those believing Hawthorne Island is real, it is a fake location created for The Menu. For the most part, Hawthorne Island was filmed on Georgia’s Tybee Island.

“Tybee Island was beautiful—and it did have a very long path through a very long field, leading to a very old barn. The symmetry of that landscape inspired us,” the film’s production designer, Ethan Tobman, explained to Conde Nast Traveler.

Tybee Island has been the filming location for many movies and TV series. Some of the best known films shot on Tybee Island include Cape Fear (1962), The Last Song (2010), Gifted (2017), Cobrai Kai (2018), and The Girl From Plainville (2021).

Tobman explained that the restaurant’s exteriors was built on Tybee Island, but the interiors were shot on a set: “We basically built the façade of the restaurant as well as enough hallway to film actors going through a door and walking into the ‘esophagus’ of the restaurant—but then they’d walk into a blue screen.”

The Menu team wanted Hawthorne Island to be in Scotland

Ethan Tobman revealed that The Menu was initially meant to be filmed in Scotland, not the United States. However, their intentions to shoot in the Highlands was interrupted by a surge of Covid-19 in the UK in summer 2021.

“We’d been so excited to film on Scotland’s brutal, northern, moss-infested coastline,” Tobman explained. Thus, director Mark Mylod encouraged the art department and production team to recreate the Scottish atmosphere in Savannah’s low marshy and grassy terrains.

Hawthorne took inspiration from real restaurants

To create a convincing exclusive restaurant, the writers and director took inspiration from some of the most highly-regarded restaurants in the world.

Some of the locations which inspired The Menu’s Hawthorne Island include Noma (Denmark), Fäviken (Sweden), El Bulli (Spain), French Laundry (California), Decider reports. The emphasis on Brutalist, Nordic architecture is inspired by the likes of Noma and Fäviken. All of these real restaurants also placed an emphasis on growing their own produce, as seen in The Menu.

French chef Dominique Crenn served as a consultant on the movie. Crenn is the only female chef in the United States to achieve three Michelin stars for her San Francisco-based restaurant, Atelier Crenn.

You can watch The Menu on HBO Max now.

Screenshot from Disney+, The Menu
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Eve Edwards is a staff writer for The Focus who has been with GRV Media since April 2019. Having gained a BA (Hons) in History from the University of Bristol, Eve joined GRV starting out as a writer for Reality Titbit before making her way over to HITC. With a passion for music, TV, and cultural news, Eve eventually found a home at The Focus. Eve spent 2021-2022 freelancing for GRV Media while she completed a Masters in Music Performance, and brings her wide array of interests to the company in her written work. In Eve's spare time you'll find her working her way through the day's Wordle, Heardle, and Quordle, or struggling to complete The Guardian's cryptic crossword.