Fenway Park is one of the most iconic and recognizable ballparks in America, an active monument to 100-plus years of Red Sox history. As such, filmmakers have approached the team for years about using the ballpark in Hollywood films, from “Field of Dreams” to “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” which debuts at theaters this weekend.
Red Sox VP of Marketing and Broadcasting Colin Burch, who manages the licensing of the club’s intellectual property in TV, film, and commercials, said that while scheduling issues can make accommodating every filming request difficult, the club recognizes how singular of a filming spot Fenway Park is.
“From our standpoint, Fenway Park is a unique location, and one that’s hard to replicate,” Burch said. “We’ve had the good fortune of being involved in so many different films across the board, from ‘The Town’ to ‘Godzilla.’”
Here are the movies that filmed at Fenway Park, and the stories behind them.
“Field of Dreams” (1989)
Sure, “Field of Dreams” is more about the 1919 White Sox team known as the “Black Sox” than it is about the Red Sox, but there is one pivotal scene filmed at Fenway Park, which leads to Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner, “Dances with Wolves”) recruiting Terence Mann (James Earl Jones, “Star Wars”) in his quest to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield.
It turns out that future “Good Will Hunting” stars Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were extras as teenagers in the ballpark scene, according to a 2010 Affleck interview with Entertainment Weekly. Affleck would return to Fenway decades later to film scenes for another movie on this list.
“Blown Away” (1994)
This movie centers around a member of the Boston Police Department’s bomb squad (Jeff Bridges, “The Big Lebowski”) who plays a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a an escaped Irish terrorist with a bomb-making specialty (Tommy Lee Jones, “The Fugitive”). MGM’s 1994 summer blockbuster was the biggest movie filmed in Massachusetts at the time, with more than 60 filming locations used, including Fenway Park. The scene at the ballpark actually contains an error, as the announcer states that a home run goes “over the Green Monster,’’ even though the ball clears the wall in right field.
Another fun fact: According to a 1993 Boston Globe article, a staged explosion on a boat for the film was so strong, it broke dozens of windows on waterfront homes in East Boston.
“A Civil Action” (1998)
This 1998 legal drama starring John Travolta (“Pulp Fiction”) shot a game scene at Fenway Park in November 1997, when the Red Sox season was already done. As such, producers had to recruit more than 1,000 extras to film the scene.
“Fever Pitch” (2005)
Burch had just joined the Red Sox in a full-time role in 2004, and his first big project was facilitating the most Red Sox-focused movie ever filmed at the park: a comedy from Peter and Bobby Farrelly (“Dumb and Dumber”), starring Jimmy Fallon (“Saturday Night Live”) and Drew Barrymore (“Never Been Kissed”). Burch said “Fever Pitch,” which required shoots during 10 live games as well as overnight shoots, remains the most logistically difficult filming experience he’s ever had.
“We had to figure out how you film in-game and then do an overnight shoot in the middle of a 10-game homestand, and do it as seamlessly as possible for staff who need to facilitate filming,” Burch said. “I think that was the biggest challenge we ever faced.”
“The Town” (2010)
Ben Affleck spent 13 days shooting this 2010 bank heist movie in Boston, including climactic scenes at Fenway Park in which characters played by Affleck and Jeremy Renner (“The Avengers”) steal $3.5 million from Fenway. Affleck also later held a red carpet premiere for the film at Fenway.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, the Cambridge native said that his close relationship with the Red Sox organization helped him get access to shoot at the ballpark.
“I promised that I wouldn’t actually show the real way money was brought in and out of Fenway Park,” Affleck told EW.
The last few scenes of this Oscar-nominated movie, in which the analytics-minded Oakland Athletics GM Billy Beane (Brad Pitt, “Fight Club”) meets with Red Sox owner John Henry (Arliss Howard, “Full Metal Jacket”), were filmed in Fenway Park.
According to a 2010 article on now-defunct website Bostonist, Henry (who now owns the Boston Globe) suggested that actor Sam Shepard (“Black Hawk Down”) should have played him in the film.
Fenway was the setting for a climactic chase scene between foul-mouthed teddy bear Ted (Seth MacFarlane, “Family Guy”) and obsessed stalker Donny (Giovanni Ribisi, “Boiler Room”) in this 2012 Mark Wahlberg comedy directed by MacFarlane. Interestingly, the scene was originally supposed to be filmed on the USS Constitution, but MacFarlane said that the Navy had some problems with the film.
“I think there were some content issues with the script, understandably, where the Navy was concerned and we couldn’t close the deal, but it ended up working out for us very well because Fenway was a great playground for us,” MacFarlane told the Boston Globe’s Sarah Rodman in a 2012 interview. “There were a million different labyrinthine corridors and passageways that were a lot of fun to light and shoot.”
Critical and commercial flop “R.I.P.D.” concerns two Boston policemen played by Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds (“Deadpool”), who become part of a ghost police force after their deaths. The rules of the movie dictate that Bridges’ and Reynolds’ characters can’t reappear on earth in order to protect the secrets of the afterlife, so they inhabit the bodies of a blonde woman (supermodel Marisa Miller) and an old Chinese man (James Hong, “Big Trouble in Little China”), respectively. That’s why it was Miller and Hong and not Bridges and Reynolds who filmed scenes at a Red Sox-Athletics game in August 2011.
For one of the scenes in this 2015 Academy Award Best Picture winner about the Boston Globe Spotlight team investigation into the Catholic Church’s cover-up of abusive priests, actors playing Globe reporters and editors attended a 2014 Red Sox game at Fenway. After it was over, the real reporters posed for photos with their on-screen counterparts.
“Patriots Day” (2016)
The Mark Wahlberg movie about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings includes a scene in which former Sox slugger David Ortiz takes the field to deliver his iconic “This is our f****** city” speech. While director Peter Berg (“Lone Survivor”) ultimately used archival footage of the actual speech, he recruited Ortiz to film new footage in a Fenway tunnel.
“I was more than happy to do it,” Ortiz told CBS News of filming the scene. “I mean, I would do anything for this town.”
“Stronger,” the second of the high-profile Boston Marathon bombings movies to be released in a matter of months, also filmed at Fenway Park. On Marathon Monday in 2016, Marathon bombing survivor Jeff Bauman took the field with his on-screen counterpart Jake Gyllenhaal (“Donnie Darko”) to throw out ceremonial first pitches. In the film, Gyllenhaal, as Bauman, throws out a pitch, then is told by a series of people how much he has inspired them as he heads out of the ballpark afterward.
“The Catcher Was a Spy” (2018)
“The Catcher Was a Spy” tells the true story of former Red Sox catcher and coach Moe Berg (Paul Rudd, “Ant-Man”), who was also — you guessed it — a spy for the US government during World War II, so filming at Fenway was a logical choice. The movie failed to win over critics or audiences, earning less than $1 million at the box office in limited release.
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” (2019)
Without spoiling too many plot points about this newly released creature feature, we can say that Fenway Park plays a significant role in the movie. In the trailer, you can see Godzilla and his nemesis, the three-headed “alpha titan” King Ghidorah, doing battle in the ballpark. While visual effects supervisor Guillaume Rocheron (“Life of Pi”) said that most of what you see on screen is digital effects, film crews spent around 10 days in Boston, shooting hours of footage, snapping close to half a million photos, and taking extremely precise measurements of buildings around the city. The end result looks incredibly realistic — or as realistic as two gigantic, prehistoric beasts destroying a city and each other can look, anyway.