Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Yorker film critic says Boston films ruled this year:

By Boston Globe Staff, December 29, 2010
New Yorker magazine film critic David Denby (below) takes note of Boston's hot films this year and in recent years in his top 10 list on one of the New Yorker's blogs.
Denby takes us back to Good Will Hunting (1997) and on to Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, The Departed and to this year's The Town, The Fighter and The Company Men.
"So what is the source of Boston’s appeal?'' Denby asks. "All these movies are about white working-class ethnics—Irish Catholics, in particular—who can talk a blue streak, and all of them are about men and women in clans. Families, friends, neighbors.''
With a nod to Mark Wahlberg's and author Dennis Lehane's Dorchester ties, and the successes of locals Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, Denby wonders aloud whether this trend amounts to a "last united stand in multicultural America.''
Denby declares "In part because the Boston talk has so much salt, “The Fighter” and “Company Men” are among the best movies of the year."

by David Denby
December 10, 2010

In recent American movies, Boston—not New York, not Chicago, not Los Angeles, but Boston—has provided the significant setting and a special urban music of slang, oaths, nostalgia, taunts, affection. The cycle of Boston films began, in 1997, with “Good Will Hunting,” which was written by its stars, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, who were childhood friends in Cambridge. Dennis Lehane’s soulful Boston thrillers have served as the basis of Clint Eastwood’s masterpiece, “Mystic River” (2003) and Affleck’s directing d├ębut, “Gone Baby Gone” (2007). The Boston screenwriter William Monahan wrote “The Departed” (2006), in which Mark Wahlberg, from Dorchester, appears in a supporting role as a fast-talking cop; Wahlberg now stars in “The Fighter,” set in Lowell, just to the northwest of Boston, as the real-world boxer and welter-weight champ Mickey Ward.

Earlier this year, Affleck appeared as a Charlestown bank robber in “The Town,” his second film as director, and he plays one of the local executives who get whacked by a downsizing Boston conglomerate in the new “Company Men.” That’s seven major films. Now, you could say that the entire phenomenon is sparked by Bostonian male stars. True, of course, but Affleck, Damon, and Wahlberg wouldn’t get money for these films from the hardnoses of Hollywood finance if the movies weren’t expected to resonate around the rest of the country.
So what is the source of Boston’s appeal? All these movies are about white working-class ethnics—Irish Catholics, in particular—who can talk a blue streak, and all of them are about men and women in clans. Families, friends, neighbors. The clan makes you and it threatens to destroy you, and for the heroes (who are all male—Arise, ye daughters of Hibernia!), the question becomes: Do I leave or do I stay? Do I let the clan define me or must I strike out on my own? And for the rest of us, the question might be: Is this neighborhood and ethnic solidarity not only a celebration, an atmosphere of terrific rough talk and family warmth, but a shudder of anticipation, a last united stand in multicultural America?

In part because the Boston talk has so much salt, “The Fighter” and “Company Men” are among the best movies of the year. The best is, of course, the Fincher-Sorkin “The Social Network,” one of the rare big-studio efforts that ravish the audience with sheer intelligence—in this case an inexhaustible vivacity of observation, temperament, wit. The Winkelvi, indeed! Has there ever been a funnier use of digital technology for sly social commentary? Polanski’s “The Ghost Writer” was the niftiest and most beautifully designed thriller of the year. Many critics have written eloquently about Pixar’s “Toy Story 3,” an elegy for the attachments we form to disposable mass-produced objects, and I have little to add. But I want to recommend again “Winter’s Bone,” Debra Granik’s grim but entirely expressive murder mystery, in which a very young woman (Jennifer Lawrence), looking for her missing father, slowly realizes that her entire extended family in the Ozarks backwoods is involved in the methamphetamine trade. Talk about clans! The movie was made by New Yorkers and Hollywood pros, but the atmosphere is as authentic as rotgut cut with turpentine, and the actors seem to have been planted in the earth.
Among other independent films, Nicole Holofcener’s “Please Give,” a comedy about property and guilt in Manhattan, remains delightful in memory.

Among the documentaries, Banksy’s “Exit Through the Gift Shop” seems to be making itself up as it goes along; every time you think you understand what it’s about, the subject shifts slightly, yet the entire movie hangs together as a devastating commentary on art-world fakery and fashion. The American Army unit joined by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger in “Restrepo,” having established a forward post in an overlook deep in an Afghan valley, just hangs there, vulnerable, bored, caught in a limbo of purpose—a perfect emblem of a war gone astray. Charles Ferguson, working in more conventional form in “Inside Job,” gathered together the essential facts of the economic breakdown and financial malfeasance into brisk units spiced with devastating interviews.
Among the fragmentary pleasures of the year, I would include Helen Mirren’s biting delivery of Shakespeare’s final dramatic verses in “The Tempest,” Kevin Spacey’s satirical bravura as Jack Abramoff in “Casino Jack,” the music-video parodies and Russell Brand’s prancing shenanigans in “Get Him to the Greek,” Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway in bed in “Love and Other Drugs,” and Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in and out of bed in “Blue Valentine.”

The Young Internet Critics of the year Award goes to Paul Brunick, who has written brilliantly about film criticism past and present in Film Comment, and David Phelps, whose writings display a tactile and sensuous appreciation of color, movement, and performance that is astonishingly rare in film criticism.
The big-deal aesthetic disasters include the tiresome, flat, and repetitive “Alice in Wonderland”; the absurdly overelaborate and empty “Inception,” which is like a giant clock that displays its gears and wheels but forgets to tell the time; and “Black Swan,” an example of the higher trash, and a movie perfect, I’m afraid, for young women who never recovered from reading Sylvia Plath. “Black Swan” asks the least appealing question of the year: “Am I good enough—to die?”

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Wahlberg in THE FIGHTER makes cover of Sports Illustrated:

‘The Fighter’ stars Mark Wahlberg and Christian Bale are Sports Illustrated cover boys. (Photo by SI/ Michael O’Neill). Their film, which was shot in Lowell Massachusetts, earned six Golden Globe nominations including BEST PICTURE, BEST ACTOR (Wahlberg), and BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR (Bale).


MAY 2007

Governor and legislative leaders announce a joint initiative to lift the cap on the film tax credit (FTC) at a State House news conference attended by local industry leadership.

MFO launches new website ( to positive reviews:

“The Massachusetts Film Office’s ‘flip book’ style website is where you can find astonishingly detailed information that puts this state back on the map as one of the most up-and-coming contenders in the tax incentive arena.” ---Production Update (P3) Magazine,  July 2007

 JULY 2007

Governor signs new film tax credit legislation and visits the set of THE GREAT DEBATERS to meet with director Denzel Washington.

For the first time ever, a major studio chooses to shoot an entire movie here, despite the fact that the film itself is not set in Massachusetts. SONY Pictures announces they will shoot PINK PANTHER 2 in Boston.

For the first time ever, Massachusetts has 3 feature films (GREAT DEBATERS, BATCHELOR NUMBER 2, and THE WOMEN) all shooting in the state at the same time.

For the first time ever, Massachusetts makes Production Update (P3) Magazine’s list of “Top Ten Production States in the US”.


“For years, Hollywood producers steered clear of the 'celluloid pariah' known as Massachusetts. But now they're all over Boston” 
Boston Globe  August 24, 2007


GAME PLAN (shot in Massachusetts in 2006) opens nationally as the number one movie in America.


“Boston is the new Toronto of the film industry.” 
–-New York Times  November 17, 2007

“Hollywood Invasion: Ten things you really need to know about Massachusetts’ overnight transformation from show-biz laughingstock to movie magnet.” 
---Boston Magazine, Cover Story,  November 2007

For the first time ever, direct spending on film production in Massachusetts surpasses $150 million.

“Movie boom of 2007 enriched Commonwealth with dollars, jobs.” 
–-Boston Globe,  December 2, 2007

“Filmmakers have more than a feeling about Boston - With nine movies in '07, no need to say please come to Boston” 
–-Hollywood Reporter,  December 21, 2007.


“Ten new movies were produced last year, thanks to the new film tax credit. What does that mean? It’s providing new jobs for workers in our creative economy and bringing over $200 million in new economic activity to the Commonwealth.” 
---Governor Deval Patrick (from his State of the State Address  January 24, 2008)

 APRIL 2008

"21" (shot in Massachusetts in 2007) opens nationally as the number one movie in America.

For the first time ever, in addition to Boston, major movies are now filming simultaneously in different locations across the state—including Medfield, Taunton, Hull, Beverly, Gloucester, Woburn and Lowell.

JUNE 2008

“At the halfway mark in 2008, business for the Massachusetts film industry is, in a word, booming. More movies have meant more temporary and long-term jobs. Private film-related businesses have surged as well. Meanwhile, the website for the Massachusetts Film Office has bulked up. In addition to housing an easy-to-use directory of contact names for getting permits, it has a production guide that provides information on production companies across the state. There's also a growing list of "Useful Links" to regional support organizations and a page that lists all Academy Award winners and nominees from Massachusetts.” 
--Boston Globe  June 29, 2008


“Public opinion is tilting strongly toward the initiatives of the Massachusetts Film Office to bring more filmmaking to the state: Almost two thirds of state voters polled last month say the tax credits for production companies are a good thing. Sixty-three percent said the credits are good, 22 percent said they’re bad, and 15 percent were undecided. The question was put to 400 registered voters statewide by 7NEWS/Suffolk University.” 
---Boston Sunday Globe  September 14, 2008


For the first time ever, direct spending on film production in Massachusetts surpassed $450 million (up from $152 million in 2007). Sixteen major productions were shot in the state (up from 9 in 2007).
For the second consecutive year, Massachusetts makes Production Update Magazine’s list of “Top Ten Production States in the US”.
"Massachusetts is definitely one of the safest ports to park your production dollars in an otherwise gloomy economy, the state has been able to attract productions big and small." 
---Production Update Magazine, December 2008


PAUL BLART: MALL COP (made in Massachusetts in 2008) opens nationally as the number one movie in America and holds the top box-office slot for two consecutive weeks---another first.

APRIL 2009

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) releases an economic impact report placing Massachusetts among the Top Ten Production states in America outside of NY and LA---the only New England state to earn that distinction.

MAY 2009

The Los Angeles Daily Journal on May 26th reports that Massachusetts is considered by industry experts to be among the “Top Five” film production states in the country.

THE PROPOSAL (shot in Massachusetts in 2008) opens nationally as the number one movie in America.


KNIGHT AND DAY, starring Tom Cruise, becomes the most ambitious film ever shot in Massachusetts. Additionally, Ben Affleck begins shooting his second directorial effort, THE TOWN, in Boston. His first film as a director, GONE BABY GONE (also made in Massachusetts) earned a 2007 Academy Award nomination for Amy Adams.

“64 percent of Bay Staters think tax breaks for movie producers are good for the economy.” Boston Herald,  September 27, 2009


For the second year in a row, new direct production spending in Massachusetts exceeds $400 million, pushing the four-year total to over a billion dollars since 2006---the most ever.


Moviemaker Magazine, in their January 21st issue, names Massachusetts as one of the their “Top Ten” locations for film production in the United States.


UMass releases results of its eighteen-month study of the Massachusetts film industry since 2006. The study found that: Massachusetts is among the fastest-growing locations for film and television production in the United States, with employment in film and television production increasing during a period when total state employment has otherwise declined.

SHUTTER ISLAND (shot in Massachusetts in 2009) opens nationally as the number one movie in America. It becomes the fifth Massachusetts-made movie since 2007 to open at the top of Variety’s box-office chart, and the second to hold the top slot for two consecutive weeks.

“There should be no question about the value of the film industry to Massachusetts. 

---Boston Globe Editorial, February 14, 2010

“Any way you slice it the effort to boost film production in Massachusetts has been a win for businesses and taxpayers.” 
---Boston Herald Editorial, February 12, 2010

APRIL 2010

For the first time ever, two major networks (CBS & ABC) shoot television pilots in Massachusetts at the same time.

MAY 2010

New Regency Pictures begins principal photography on WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER, the 44th major production to shoot in Massachusetts since 2007.

JUNE 2010

For the first time ever, two Massachusetts-made movies (KNIGHT AND DAY and GROWN UPS) open nationally on the same day (June 25th). KNIGHT AND DAY also becomes the first feature film to utilize the “MASSACHUSETTS, It’s all here” logo in their end credits.


“Hosting recent studio hits like SHUTTER ISLAND and THE PROPOSAL, Massachusetts has been attracting some seriously big-time Hollywood features. With an expanding creative economy forged by a bipartisan film tax credit law, the Commonwealth has been blitzing the cinematic scene.”   
––Production Update (P3) Magazine, September 2010

THE TOWN, Ben Affleck’s crime thriller (shot in Massachusetts in 2009) becomes the 6th locally produced feature film since 2007 to open nationally as the Number One movie in America---making 2010 the second consecutive year that Massachusetts earned bragging rights to two Variety box-office champs in the same year.


THE SOCIAL NETWORK, filmed in Medford, Andover, Boston, and at Wheelock College, opens nationally as the number one movie in America for the two weeks ending October 10, 2010. This is the 7th time since 2007 that a Massachusetts-made movie has topped Variety's box office chart.

"So what set off this explosion of filming in the Massachusetts area? The answer seems to be the Massachusetts Film Office. The state was among the first to create an official film office in 1979, and in 2006, the film tax credit began...From this point on, the number of Massachusetts-filmed movies has increased to an exponential degree." ---Lawrence Eagle Tribune,  October 24, 2010


THE FIGHTER, starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale, & Amy Adams—filmed on location in Lowell—opens nationally on December 10, 2010.


*THE FIGHTER: Best Picture, Best Director (David O. Russell); Best Actor (Mark Wahlberg); Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale) and Best Supporting Actress ( Amy Adams and Melissa Leo).

*THE SOCIAL NETWORK: Best Picture, Best Actor-Drama (Jesse Eisenberg), Best Supporting Actor (Andrew Garfield), Best Director (David Fincher), Best Screenplay (Aaron Sorkin), and Best Original Score (Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross).

*THE TOWN: Best Supporting Actor-Drama (Jeremy Renner).


THE COMPANY MEN, John Wells’ film starring Ben Affleck & Kevin Costner—filmed in Boston, Burlington, Lynn, Marblehead, and Milton—opens in limited release in December, 2010.

SINCE 2007 (alphabetical listing)

21 (Columbia Pictures) starring Kevin Spacey & Kate Bosworth
AMERICAN IDOL Season 9 Premiere (Fox) TV series episode
BRIDE WARS (Fox 2000 Pictures) starring Kate Hudson & Anne Hathaway
BUNKER HILL (WB Network) TV pilot
CHATHAM (Independent) starring David Carradine & Mariel Hemingway
EDGE OF DARKNESS  (Warner Bros) starring Mel Gibson
EXTREME MAKEOVER: Home Edition (ABC) TV series, Season 5, Episode 25
FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS (NBC) TV series, Season 4, Episode 8
FURRY VENGEANCE (Summit Entertainment) starring Brendan Frasier & Brooke Shields
GHOSTS OF GIRLFRIENDS PAST (New Line Cinema) starring Jennifer Garner & Mathew McConaughey
GROWN UPS (Columbia Pictures) starring Adam Sandler, David Spade & Chris Rock
KNIGHT AND DAY (20th Century Fox) starring Tom Cruise & Cameron Diaz
KNOWING (Summit Entertainment) starring Nicholas Cage
MISSION PARK (Independent)
MY BEST FRIEND’S GIRL (Lionsgate) starring Dane Cook & Kate Hudson
PAUL BLART: MALL COP (Columbia Pictures) starring Kevin James
SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE (Fox) TV series, Season 6, Episode 3
SHUTTER ISLAND (Paramount Pictures) starring Leonardo DiCaprio & Ben Kingsley
THE BOX (Warner Bros) starring Cameron Diaz & Frank Langella
THE COMPANY MEN (The Weinstein Co.) starring Kevin Costner & Ben Affleck
THE FIGHTER (Paramount Pictures) starring Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale & Amy Adams
THE GREAT DEBATERS (MGM) starring Denzel Washington
THE INVENTION OF LYING (Warner Bros) starring Ricky Gervais & Jennifer Garner
THE JONESES (Independent)
THE LAST HARBOR (Independent)
THE LIGHTKEEPERS (Independent) starring Richard Dreyfus & Blythe Danner
THE MAIDEN HEIST (Sony Pictures dvd) starring Christopher Walken, Morgan Freeman & Marcia Gay Harden
THE PHONE (MTV) TV series, Season 1, Episode 3
THE PINK PANTHER 2 (Columbia Pictures) starring Steve Martin & Lily Tomlin
THE PROPOSAL (Walt Disney Pictures) starring Sandra Bullock & Ryan Reynolds
THE SOCIAL NETWORK (Columbia Pictures) starring Justin Timberlake
THE SURROGATES (Walt Disney Pictures) starring Bruce Willis
THE TOWN (Warner Bros) starring Jon Hamm & Ben Affleck
THE WAR IN 04 (Spike TV) TV pilot
THE WOMEN (Picturehouse Entertainment) starring Meg Ryan & Annette Bening
VALEDICTION (Independent)
WHAT DOESN’T KILL YOU (Yari Films) starring Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke & Amanda Peet
WHAT’S YOUR NUMBER? (New Regency) starring Anna Farris & Chris Evans
ZOOKEEPER  (Sony Pictures) starring Kevin James


Sony/Columbia – 8
Warner Bros – 5
Disney--ABC – 5
FOX – 4
Paramount – 2
Summit Entertainment -- 2
Picturehouse Entertainment – 1
The Weinstein Company -- 1
New Regency Pictures – 1
New Line Cinema – 1
Spike TV – 1
MGM – 1
MTV – 1
NBC – 1
CBS – 1
Independent/Other – 9


Major productions shot in Massachusetts by year:

2004 – 2
2005 - 3
2006 - 4
2007 - 9
2008 - 16
2009 – 16

Direct production spending* in Massachusetts by year:

2004 – figures not available
2005 - $6 million
2006 - $72 million
2007 - $152 million
2008 - $452 million
2009 - $455 million (est)
*Source: Mass. Department of Revenue


GAME PLAN (Walt Disney Pictures) week ending October 14, 2007
21 (Columbia Pictures) week ending April 6, 2008
MALL COP (Columbia Pictures) two weeks ending January 25, 2009
THE PROPOSAL (Touchstone Pictures) week ending July 26, 2009
SHUTTER ISLAND (Paramount Pictures) two weeks ending Feb 28, 2010
THE TOWN (Warner Bros. Pictures) week ending September 19, 2010
THE SOCIAL NETWORK (Columbia Pictures) 2 wks/e  October 10, 2010
*Source: VARIETY

2010 Editorial Commentary on MA Film Industry

In the last four years, 38 major motion pictures have been shot in the Bay State, including the Scorsese-DiCaprio “Shutter Island” that’s currently a box office hit. The main reason for the surge in production is a 25 percent film tax credit that went into effect in 2006. It’s generated a billion dollars in economic activity and added jobs in a down economy. For that reason, we believe the credit deserves to stay uncapped.
---WCVB-TV5 Editorial,  March 4 2010

“There should be no question about the value of the film industry to Massachusetts. Among the millions of international moviegoers watching Boston-based films are people looking to locate their businesses, plan major conventions, and book vacations. The people of the Bay State are justly proud of their image. The film credit conveys that image to the world. It gives Boston, in particular, the world-class status it needs and deserves. The film credit has been a success and deserves to continue without a cap. It is plainly worth the money.”
---Boston Globe Editorial, February 14, 2010
 “Any way you slice it the effort to boost film production in Massachusetts has been a win for businesses and taxpayers. Critics who question the value of the state’s film tax incentives really ought to read a new study out of UMass-Boston which finds that the Bay State is one of the fastest growing locations for film and TV production in the country. And all of that activity during this recent period of economic decline has meant one thing: Jobs. Now is not the time to walk away.”
---Boston Herald Editorial, February 12, 2010
  “It is not just actors, directors, producers or studio owners who benefit. It is local businesses and workers, some in sectors that have been particularly hard hit by the recession, like construction and transportation. Jobs and economic activity are what produce the long-term, sustainable tax revenue that the state desperately needs. It would be foolish, not to mention expensive, to drive that activity to other states.”
---Lawrence Eagle Tribune Editorial, February 17, 2010

“While Essex reaped $150,000 as a town from "Grown Ups" using Centennial Grove, it's more notable that the summer-long film work injected an estimated $1 million or more into the Essex private-sector economy.”
---Gloucester Daily Times Editorial,  February 19, 2010

“Just in the past couple of years, the local area has hosted several movie projects. Scenes from "Bride Wars," starring Anne Hathaway and Kate Hudson, were filmed in Salem. Parts of "The Proposal," starring Sandra Bullock, Ryan Reynolds and Betty White, were filmed in Beverly and Manchester. "The Company Men," starring Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner and Tommy Lee Jones, features scenes shot in Marblehead. Capping the film tax credit is about a short-term gain that will very likely create a long-term loss.”
---Salem News Editorial.  February 19, 2010

“Since the Legislature adopted a film tax credit in 2005, employment in the film industry has risen 33 percent, from 4,530 jobs to 6,048. That is the largest percentage growth of any state during that time period, according to the study. Deb Belanger, executive director of the Greater Merrimack Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, estimates that Gervais' movie generated $2 million in revenue for Lowell from hotel stays, supplies and food, and local jobs for hairdressers and extras. The city also benefited because the film paid for police details and parking permits.”
---Lowell Sun, February 12, 2010

 “The tax credits have drawn a steady stream of film projects to Boston, and suburban communities like Sudbury, Waltham Southborough, and Hopedale and in recent years. "The filmmakers gave the town $30,000 for being in town for a week. That's not bad," said Southborough selectmen Chairman Sal Giorlandino. In May 2009, Columbia Pictures filmed portions of "Grown Ups," an Adam Sandler film, at a church in Southborough. The shooting lasted six days and the church was paid over $25,000, in addition to the money paid to the town.”
---MetroWest Daily News, February 12, 2010

“According to the DOR report, between 2006 and 2009, direct new spending in the state as a result of movie production topped an estimated $1 billion.”
---Boston Business Journal, January 15, 2010

 “The University of Massachusetts study released Thursday found a 117 percent growth in motion picture and video production jobs in the state between 2005 and 2008. Post-production jobs jumped 126 percent. Those new jobs have helped fill an employment gap at a time when the state's jobless numbers climbed steadily.”
---Associated Press, February 11, 2010

 “Massachusetts has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing locations for film and television production since 2005, with employment in the industry jumping about 30 percent, according to the UMass study, which estimated that the film industry in 2008 created about $1 billion in economic activity in Massachusetts, as every dollar spent directly generated nearly another dollar in activity.”
---Boston Globe, February 11, 2010

“The Bay State is poised to finally hit the big-time, from a potential Boston-based TV series to budding plans for a studio complex in South Boston. In an era where state and federal governments are desperately shelling out cash to create jobs, one pothole at a time, this relatively low-cost industry incentive looks like a bargain. In fact, it’s a whole lot more justifiable than many. The film tax credit was meant to bring in spending and jobs. On that front, it has succeeded admirably. Spending by film productions in the state soared from $71 million in 2006 to nearly $400 million in 2009. That’s a huge infusion into the local economy over four years, and does not count hundreds of millions in additional indirect spending as well. Over the same period, these productions have also created thousands of jobs.”
---Banker and Tradesman, February 7, 2010

“The growth of the film industry here ought to prompt a wider discussion about general tax policy. It is the film industry that is in focus right now. But it is actually about every industry. It is the private sector that creates the jobs that produce the tax revenue that is the lifeblood of government.”
---Newburyport Daily News Editorial, February 22, 2010