Peabody is getting a dose of Hollywood this summer, with two big-budget
films, “I Hate You, Dad,” starring Adam Sandler, and “Here Comes the
Boom,” starring Kevin James, already passing through, and dropping
thousands of dollars along the way.
“Ted,” starring Mark Wahlberg, filmed recently in Swampscott.
And in just the last few years, “Grown Ups,” “Bride Wars,” “The Proposal,”
“Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” and a handful of others have filmed on the
How much do these movies boost the local economy in the form of money
and jobs? Nobody really knows, but there’s certainly an effort being made
to figure it out. The seemingly overnight explosion of movie productions
traveling north of Boston has left local economic and tourism organizations
scrambling to find ways to quantify the economic impact. It’s still a work in
“We haven’t figured out a good way to see how these productions impact us
locally, but I definitely think it does,” said Amanda Fancy, communications
coordinator at the North of Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau.
“Towns on the level of Salem, like New Bedford and Quincy, are so new to
this, we haven’t really established the multipliers or a way to capture the
economic impact of these movies,” said Kate Fox, executive director of
“The economic impact would be the crew and cast and the direct spending
they are doing at restaurants and other businesses. But we have no sense
of how great that is.”
Even the Massachusetts Department of Revenue has no information specific
to any region or county.
“And because of disclosure law, we can’t even identify how much a specific
production spends or receives in tax credits, said Robert Bliss, a spokesman
for the department. “It’s all in the aggregate.”
From lumber to tourists - even if it were possible to learn how much each
movie spends, how much of that trickles into the local economy is hard to
“Say you’re trying to see exactly how much of the budget is used here. Well,
are the trucks from here? How many of the people come from somewhere
else? It’s really hard to break down and get to the data,” said Lisa Strout,
the new director at the Massachusetts Film Office and a 20-plus year
veteran of the movie industry.
“There’s hotel use, restaurants and various things a movie production buys
or patronizes, such as lumber, hardware, car washes, dry cleaners, and
things you wouldn't normally associate with film. I've seen numerous
examples where they walk up to a local bagel shop and say, ‘We’re going to
need 1,000 bagels every day for the next three weeks.’”
A movie production is a lot like a military operation, Strout said. It’s a
bunch of people traveling together, hunkered down in trailers and tents,
with a massive amount of equipment, supplies and food.
“The needs of those people cross all economic sectors,” she said. “It’s very,
very significant when a large movie comes in. Then the tourist stuff comes
Salem, which hasn't seen a big-budget movie since 2008’s “Bride Wars,” is
eager to cash in.
To aid the effort, the city’s tourist office is developing a new film office and
website with photos, contacts and information to help lure film producers to
Salem. The website, the first of its kind on the North Shore, should go live
“within the month,” Fox said.
While numbers are hard to come by, those who've been involved in recent
film projects seem certain they’re an economic benefit.
When “Here Comes the Boom” shot a few scenes at Latitude Sports Club in
Peabody over a few days last month, manager Christian Padilla couldn't
believe the size of the operation. There were well over 100 workers — from
electricians to set builders, cameramen and cleanup crew — and several
trailers full of equipment.
“A lot of them were local,” Padilla said. “The feeling I got talking to them
was that it was a lot of union work; they get on this movie and then that
project, and continue on like that.”
Club manager: ‘We’re happy’
Several of the same crew that came to Latitude are now working on “I Hate
You, Dad,” which has been filming in Peabody now for a couple of weeks.
This week, the crew showed up at the Cabaret Lounge, a Route 1 strip club.
They are building the sets and will continue filming there past the July
Fourth holiday — shutting down the club the entire time, club manager
Peter Hickey said.
In addition to paying all of the club’s 30 or so employees their regular
wages during the shutdown, the movie production is paying the club an
undisclosed sum for its troubles.
It must make up for all the lost revenue, because Hickey said the sum “is
fine for us, and we’re happy with it.”
Hickey, like Padilla, said a lot of the workers hired to build the set were
from the area.
“All the people are local people, local Teamsters, and there’s an awful lot of
them — maybe 30 or 40 working in here, so it’s real good for them,” Hickey
said. “And I think it’s beneficial for the club. We get good publicity and
public relations. And the staff get paid time off, and I know a lot of them
wanted to be off for the Fourth of July.”
While numbers are not available locally, the state has gone through great
pains to document, at least in aggregate, the benefits it sees from the
According to the Massachusetts Film Office, more than $1 billion has been
spent on movie production in the state from 2006 to 2009, the last year
numbers are available. The state has paid movie studios about $150 million
of that back in tax credits over that time, which is likely the main reason for
the sudden film boom here.
The average annual cost to taxpayers for the credits over that time was
about $27 million, but the average annual benefit to the economy is more
than $267 million, according to the state.
Some 4,972 jobs have been created from 2006 to 2009 as a direct result of
the film industry, the film office says. Those jobs, by the way, have a
median salary of almost $68,000.
How Peabody's recent fling with Hollywood impacts the local coffers,
however, is less easy to quantify. But everyone seems to believe it certainly
“It’s a benefit,” Mayor Michael Bonfanti said. “It definitely has a trickle-
down effect on the whole economy.”
MOVIES FILMED ON THE NORTH SHORE
“I Hate You, Dad” (Peabody)
“Here Comes the Boom” (Peabody)
“What’s Your Number?” (Gloucester)
“The Company Men” (Marblehead)
“Grown Ups” (Essex)
“Furry Vengeance” (Danvers, Ipswich, Topsfield)
“Knight & Day” (Danvers)
“The Joneses” (Peabody, Newburyport)
“Bride Wars” (Salem)
“The Last Harbor” (Gloucester, Rockport)
“Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” (Ipswich)
“The Proposal” (Gloucester, Manchester, Rockport, Hamilton, Beverly)
“The Women” (Gloucester, Georgetown)
“My Best Friend’s Girl” (Ipswich)
“The Box” (Ipswich)
When Hollywood comes to the North Shore, dollars follow
by Roland Hansen
|Delta Films - Movie News
with a local focus
14 Collins Street in Peabody is where a movie is being filmed with Adam Sandler.