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The Top 25 Movies Filmed in Massachusetts

By David Bloch | 08/11/2014
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25. Hocus Pocus (1993)hocuspocus

This Disney cult classic has never received any critical acclaim, but twenty years later still attracts millions of television viewers every Halloween. Starring Bette Midler and a pre-Sex and the City Sarah Jessica Parker, Hocus Pocus shot for two weeks in Salem and Marblehead.

24. Paul Blart Mall Cop (2009)

King of Queens star Kevin James rode a segway and generally made a fool of himself in the South Shore Plaza and the Burlington Mall during the filming of this lighthearted comedy.

23. A Civil Action (1998)

Actor/Scientologist John Travolta played the lead in this film, which is based on the real-life events surrounding Anderson v. Cryovac, a landmark environmental contamination lawsuit filed in the 1980s by Woburn residents. Local conservative columnist blowhard Howie Carr even played a small role.

22. Next Stop Wonderland (1998)

An independent movie filmed entirely in and around Boston, Next Stop Wonderland is a romantic comedy about two people who fall in love after a chance meeting on a Blue Line train heading towards – you guessed it – Wonderland.

21. Fever Pitch (2005)

Fever Pitch will forever be remembered for its amazing timing. Against all odds, this movie about a die-hard Red Sox fan was filmed at the exact same time that the Sox finally won their first World Series since 1918.

20. The Invention of Lying (2009)

With an all-star supporting cast of Rob Lowe, Jonah Hill, Jennifer Garner, Tina Fey, and Louis C.K., comedic genius Ricky Gervais produced, wrote, directed, and starred in The Invention of Lying. Scenes were shot in Andover and Lowell.

19. Mystery Street (1950)

Mystery Street was the first major motion picture to be shot entirely in Massachusetts. Filming took place in Boston and the Cape. This mid-century film noir starred Ricardo Montalban and was nominated for best writing at the 1951 Academy Awards.

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18. The Boston Strangler (1968)

Thirteen women were murdered from 1962 to 1964 by the infamous “Boston Strangler,” Albert DeSalvo. The case has generated controversy from the beginning: DeSalvo was never actually tried for the murders and his own dubious confessions while in jail for other crimes caused significant doubt among investigators involved in the case, many of whom believed more than one person was involved. The media drove the public perception that one serial killer was the perpetrator.  Until 2013 there was no physical evidence connecting him to the crimes. DNA evidence taken from the body of the last victim finally proved that DeSalvo was responsible for at least one of killings.

With memories of the events still fresh in the mind of the people of Greater Boston, The Boston Strangler was filmed on-location in Boston and Cambridge and released in 1968 – the year after DeSalvo was sentenced to life in prison.

17. TED (2012)

TED, the brainchild of Family Guy creator and New England native Seth MacFarlane, was completely filmed in Boston and surrounding towns and starred our favorite hoodlum-turned-rapper-turned-actor – Mark Wahlberg.  A sequel is being shot right now, with filming slated to take place in Boston and Ipswich.

16. 21 (2008)

21 is based on the true story of MIT students who fleeced millions of dollars from Las Vegas casinos by counting cards. Scenes were filmed in several notable Boston locations, including the Public Garden and the Convention and Expo Center.

15. Monument Ave

Worcester native and Emerson College graduate Denis Leary starred in this crime drama set and shot in Charlestown. Monument Ave is the first of several movies on our list that showcase the all too familiar theme of blue-collar, Irish-American organized crime.

14. Glory (1989)

Morgan Freeman, Denzel Washington, and Matthew Broderick led this critically acclaimed Civil-War era drama about the first all-black Union regiment. Scenes were shot at Boston Common, Old Sturbridge Village, and Appleton Farms.

13. The Firm (1993)

Based on the quintessential John Grisham novel of the same name, The Firm starred Tom Cruise and Gene Hackman. The Copley Plaza Hotel and Central Square in Cambridge were among the locales featured.


12. The Perfect Storm (2000)

Starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly, The Perfect Storm is based on the true story of the crew of a commercial fishing boat based out of Gloucester that was caught in the Halloween Nor’easter of 1991 while at sea.

 

A Complete Timeline of Movies and TV Shows Filmed in Mass. Since 1974

11. Shutter Island (2010)

Legendary Hollywood director Martin Scorcese and Leonardo DiCaprio followed up 2006’s The Departed with another film almost entirely shot in the Bay State. This psychological thriller was their fourth collaboration.

10. American Hustle (2013)

Critical and box-office success American Hustle was mostly shot in Worcester and Boston. Its filming was interrupted by the Boston Marathon bombings.

9. Gone Baby Gone (2007)

Gone Baby Gone was the directorial debut of Cambridge native Ben Affleck and starred his younger brother Casey. The plot, based on the Dennis Lehane novel of the same name, follows the investigation of a child abduction in Dorchester.  Lehane also authored Mystic River and Shutter Island, both of which inspired movies on this list. Most of the movie was shot in South Boston.

8. The Town (2010)

Starring Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm, and Jeremy Renner, The Town is another addition to the Boston crime drama subgenre that has developed over the past two decades. Bank heists in nun costumes and Fenway Park shootouts – these are among the iconic scenes from this movie about friendship and robbing banks.

7. Mystic River (2003)

Clint Eastwood produced and directed this Boston-filmed drama. With an all-star ensemble cast that included Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Laurence Fishburne, and Kevin Bacon, Mystic River received widespread critical acclaim and garnered several Golden Globes and Academy Awards.

6. Boondock Saints (1999)

Boondock Saints was a complete box-office failure and never received positive reviews. (Apparently it only made around $30,000!) Its writing and acting aren’t great. The plot doesn’t really make much sense. More filming took place in Toronto than Boston. One critic described it well as:

“A belated entry in the hipster crime movie movement that began with Resevoir Dogs, Troy Duffy’s “Boondock Saints” mixes blood and Catholic-tinged vigilante justice in excessive portions for sometimes wacky and always brutal effect. [The film is] more interested in finding fresh ways to stage execution scenes than in finding meaning behind the human urge for self-appointed righting of wrongs.”

Despite all of this, the film slowly reached cult status through VHS and DVD sales and has become the epitome of a guilty pleasure.

5. The Fighter (2010)

In the award-winning movie The Fighter Mark Wahlberg plays the role of retired Lowell boxer Micky Ward. It was entirely shot on-location in Lowell.

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4. The Social Network (2010)

The Social Network shot many scenes in Massachusetts, using Wheelock College in Boston as a replacement for Harvard. Phillips Academy and Milton Academy were also used.

3. Jaws (1975)

Stephen Spielberg’s classic thriller made an entire generation of kids afraid to swim at the beach. The entire movie was shot in Martha’s Vineyard and to this day any tour of the island is incomplete without the guide pointing out where filming took place. Jaws’ incredible success provided Hollywood with the summer blockbuster template that would come to dominate the industry.

2. Goodwill Hunting (1997)

Goodwill Hunting propelled its writers and stars – best friends Matt Damon and Ben Affleck – into Hollywood stardom. Also starring Robin Williams and Minnie Driver, the movie spawned many memorable scenes, drew nothing but critical acclaim and received several awards. The majority of the film was shot in Toronto, but many scenes were shot in South Boston and Cambridge. How do you like them apples?

1. The Departed (2006)

Most people would agree: The Departed represents the pinnacle of cinema made in and inspired by Boston. Another movie that produced a wealth of memorable scenes, Martin Scorcese and his ensemble cast – anchored by Matt Damon, Leo DiCaprio and the inimitable Jack Nicholson – created a classic.