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The Biggest Hollywood Films are Made: Not In L A, But in Boston!

Updated on November 15, 2012
Billrrrr profile image

Bill Russo is featured in the film & TV show, The Bridgewater Triangle & has written several books (both fiction & non) on Amazon Kindle.

The Proposal (Sandra Bullock)

Leonardo DiCaprio & Jack Nicholson (based on Whitey Bulger)

Shutter Island was filmed in Taunton & Boston Harbor

Top Films Made in Mass.

Shutter Island, The Proposal, The Town, The Departed; the list goes on and on. More than two dozen star laden films have been shot in Massachusetts in the last two years alone.

Why has Boston and the dusty old Bay State become big box office? Mostly it’s because of free Money For the Moviemakers under a program started by former Governor Mitt Romney. More about this later.

Here’s a partial list of the recent Bay State Productions:

1. The Social Network: (2009): The story of ‘Facebook’ was filmed in Andover, Massachusetts. It won three Oscars and grossed 96 million dollars. The stars included, Justin Timberlake and Jesse Eisenberg.

2 The Town: (2010): Gangsters from the Charlestown section of Boston formed the basis of this thriller which grossed 92 million and was Oscar nominated. It was directed by local boy, Ben Affleck who also starred in the movie, along with Rebecca Hall.

3. The Fighter: (2010): (Filmed in Lowell and Lexington)

The movie, “The Fighter” was just like Micky Ward, the real life fighter: Nobody expected much of either and both went on to become champions, Micky in boxing and the film in La La, where it won two Academy Awards and 39 other major awards. The production starring Boston’s Mark Wahlberg, Melissa Leo, and Christian Bale, earned 93 million at the Box Office and seems certain to soon be the proud parent of a sequel.

4. The Zookeeper: (2011) Filmed in Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo, This Frank Coraci picture, starring Kevin James, Rosario Dawson and Boston’s Donnie Wahlberg, raked in 80 million dollars on a budget of 20 million. It is a funny, romantic comedy with real animals stealing scenes as they talk to the zookeeper and tutor him in lessons of love and life. A dozen film vets provide the fabulous animal voices, including Nick Nolte, Don Rickles, Adam Sandler and Cher Bono.

5. The Departed: (2005) Four Oscars including best picture. Almost 400 million in ticket sales. The Departed was based on the real life South Boston monster, Whitey Bulger as portrayed by Jack Nicholson. The stellar cast included many East Coast faves including Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg and Bobby Wahlberg; as well as Leonardo DiCaprio, Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin.

6. Paul Blart Mall Cop: Filmed at the real Malls in Burlington and Braintree (just outside of Boston), Kevin James starred as the inept security guard who has to face an organized gang of crooks who have the mall under armed siege. Made for 25 million, Director Steve Carr’s comedy smash took in almost six times budget; totaling $146, 336, 178 in box office receipts. That figure includes $6.25 from me.

7. Shutter Island: 300 million in box office receipts. Leonardo Di Caprio headed Martin Scorsese’s mystery thriller, filmed mostly in Taunton and Boston. Much of the production was made at an old mill complex on the East Side of Taunton. The producers were slated to use an ancient mental hospital in Taunton where Lizzie Borden was confined, until they saw the mill buildings. Lunch during filming was at Benjamin's. Scorsese loved it and if you ever get to Taunton, head for Bay Street and follow the aroma.

8. The Proposal: 2009: Sandra Bullock fronted the ensemble in this romantic comedy set in Sitka, Alaska. The film took in over 300 million worldwide to become one of the highest grossing romantic comedies of all time. The United States DVD sales alone, were an additional $90 million. The setting was Alaska, but the filming was all done in Massachusetts. The coastal town of Rockport was transformed into the community of Sitka. Other Bay State locations included Boston, and Manchester-by-the-Sea.

9. Pink Panther 2. 2007: Steve Martin’s spoof of Peter Sellers’ spoof, was panned by critics, but it took in almost $80 million worldwide at a cost of 11 million. Filming was in and around Boston as well as in Paris.

10. Fever Pitch: Based on the Boston Red Sox run to the World Series in 2004 Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon starred in the production which cost $30,000,000. Box office receipts were around $40, 000, 000.

Those are just ten of the dozens of feature films to have been made in Massachusetts in the last few years. There also have been scores of television series and individual episodes; including Friday Night Lights, Wheel of Fortune, and American Idol.

The reason for all the cinematic activity in Massachusetts is MONEY. Governor Mitt Romney, in 2005, started a program to give tax credits to film production companies. The credits include a 25% production credit, a 25% payroll credit and an exemption from the 6.25 per cent Massachusetts sales tax.

With these incentives in place, a movie studio that spends 12 million, can get back four million just in production costs; in addition to the credit for payroll and the sales tax savings.

Little wonder then that the film industry is booming.

But there’s trouble brewing. One Massachusetts film-maker is behind bars, charged with cheating the Commonwealth out of millions of dollars paid to him in tax credits. He allegedly over-reported the cost of his films. In one case, he claimed that he paid Richard Dreyfus $2,500,000 for the 2009 film “The Lightkeepers”, but Dreyfus’ salary for the movie was actually $400.000.

More on this story in the next hub in this series. Follow the link.


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    • Billrrrr profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Russo 

      6 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thanks for the comment Wingedcentaur. Subsidies are what keeps the economy going these days I guess.

      The state of Rhode Island gave Curt Schilling a $75 million loan guarantee to move his video game business there, a year or two ago. The company missed a loan payment and the State may be on the hook for the 75 mill, if the firm goes belly-up.

      In Mass., Dan Adams stiffed the Commonwealth for almost $5 million by reporting bogus film costs. In one incident he claimed that he paid Richard Dreyfus, $2.5 million, but the salary was actually $400,000. Adams collected a bogus film credit payment of $2.1 million on the scam.

      He has been caught, convicted, and sentenced to two years. But he has a new film coming out, "The Big Valley" and he will probably make millions on it. He needs $4.4 million to pay back the taxpayers of Mass.

    • wingedcentaur profile image

      William Thomas 

      6 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

      Great information and a slice of history of Boston cinema, Billrrr!

      I loved 'Departed' and 'Shutter Island.' These tax incentives put in place by the former Govenor Romney interest me. This seems to be a general pattern in corporate America these days: the subsidies are increasing, while what they pay in taxes goes down.

      You recall, I'm sure about how General Electric got by without paying any U.S. taxes that year, for example?

      Off to part two in this series.

    • Billrrrr profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Russo 

      7 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thanks Geoff for reading and also for commenting. This Summer Adam Sandler was filming his new picture, "I hate you Dad," about ten miles from my house. They sent out a call for extras at Barnstable High School. I wanted to go but had something else to do on the day of the call.

    • Geoff Morova profile image

      Geoff Morova 

      7 years ago from South Dakota

      Interesting topic! I knew that movies tended to be made in certain areas quite often but didn't know why.

    • Billrrrr profile imageAUTHOR

      Bill Russo 

      7 years ago from Cape Cod

      Thankyou very much Jyoti for reading and for commenting.

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 

      7 years ago from Jaipur

      Descriptive one. Good pictures. Rated up and interesting.


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