December 21, 2007 / 8:38 AM / 10 years ago

Filmmakers have more than a feeling about Boston

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Boston is fast becoming Hollywood Northeast.

Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed” was set in the Bay State and more than half of the film was shot on location, but only about $6 million of its $90 million budget was spent in Massachusetts, with a larger amount of the location work going to New York, according to Nicholas Paleologos, executive director of the Massachusetts Film Office.

“Fast-forward 24 months: ‘The Pink Panther 2’ had nothing to do with Massachusetts and not a single scene takes place in Massachusetts -- but Massachusetts got the lion’s share of the location spending,” he said.

In large part, this trend can be attributed to an aggressive tax incentive plan allowing productions that drop more than $50,000 in Massachusetts to receive a 25% rebate on everything they spend in the state.

Nine major features were shot in Massachusetts this year, pouring more than $125 million in direct expenditure into the local economy, up 150% from 2006, said Paleologos

“Before (the incentives), those pictures would stay in the state for a week or two shooting exteriors and then shoot in another place where they could get a tax credit,” he said.

Contributing to the program’s success to some degree is the greenback’s slide against the Canadian dollar, prompting producers to look for cheaper location options in the States. And Boston has been met with enthusiasm.

”Everywhere you turn, the camera is a feast for your eyes,“ said Mike Paseornek, president of production at Lionsgate. ”Boston has not ever been overused as a city for a setting in movies. You have a fresh look at something audiences haven’t seen for quite a while.

“As long as the tax incentives stay in place, we will be returning to the city.”

Lionsgate recently filmed “My Best Friend’s Girl,” starring Dane Cook and Kate Hudson, in the Boston area. The production team took full advantage of the city, shooting along the Charles River and Commonwealth Avenue as well as at Fenway Park, Quincy Market and Boston Common.

“Boston was right for this movie, and the tax incentives made it possible to get the film done within the budget,” Paseornek said.

Similarly, Rob Paris, one of the producers of “The Lonely Maiden,” starring Morgan Freeman, Christopher Walken, William H. Macy and Marcia Gay Harden, said: “We are filming downtown at a customs house. We shot in the North End and Paul Revere Mall. We’ve done great iconography to incorporate into the movie, which I think is going to give it a nice extra layer that previously we weren’t going to have.”

He added that the producers initially were looking to shoot in Vancouver, but the slumping U.S. dollar coupled with the tax incentives made Boston the more advantageous choice.

Other productions that filmed in Boston this year included Denzel Washington’s Christmas Day release “The Great Debaters,” and the Mick Jagger-produced “The Women,” starring Meg Ryan.

In production are Richard Kelly’s “The Box,” starring Cameron Diaz, James Marsden and Frank Langella, and “Real Men Cry,” starring Mark Ruffalo, Ethan Hawke and Amanda Peet.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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