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Despite more than a full year of pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, the cameras have still been rolling in the Massachusetts film industry.
Probably the biggest title of the year — Adam McKay’s star-studded Netflix comedy “Don’t Look Up” — wrapped filming in February. But this summer has proven to be busier than anytime in the state’s history, with close to a dozen Hollywood movies or TV shows filming scenes here. The star power hasn’t diminished, either, with the likes of Halle Berry, Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell, Jon Hamm, Octavia Spencer, and others making Boston their temporary summer home while working on projects.
It’s a trend that industry members hope will continue thanks to a recent legislative victory on Beacon Hill, when Gov. Charlie Baker signed a law that made the state’s film tax credit program permanent. Local industry professionals have long said that Hollywood studios have been cautious about bringing long-term work like multi-season TV shows to Massachusetts due to the film credit previously being set to expire in 2022.
Angela Peri, the founder of casting agency Boston Casting, echoed that message to Bloomberg Radio, saying that she expected Hollywood to flock to Boston like it previously did to Toronto, another East Coast filming hub.
“We’ve got nine projects shooting here right now, and anything else that was coming in, Hollywood was a little hesitant because they wanted to see how it was going to go,” Peri said. “Because if the tax incentives went away, they don’t want to be here on the ground and […] have to readjust.
“So now that it’s solid? Oh, you better believe they’re going to be looking at Boston in a big way,” Peri continued. “We’re gonna become like Toronto. I’m telling you, there’s going to be work for everybody. People should go back to college and learn how to become a crew member.”
Here are all of the major movies and TV shows filming in Massachusetts in 2021. Stay tuned for even more productions coming to the Bay State later this year, which we’ll be sure to share once the cameras start rolling.
Emma Roberts (“We’re the Millers”) has been in the Boston area on and off since earlier this spring when she began production on “About Fate,” a romantic comedy about two people struggling to find true love trapped together by stormy weather on New Year’s Eve.
Filming began in early June, with Roberts shooting several days’ worth of scenes in an apartment complex in Watertown, and later filming in Boston and Norwood, according to a source familiar with production.
After numerous delays, the FX anthology horror series “American Horror Story” kicked off production March 1 in Provincetown. Filming under the code name “Pilgrim,” season 10 of Ryan Murphy’s show filmed all over Provincetown, with specific locations including Pilgrim Monument, Winthrop Street Cemetery, Mews Restaurant, and Racing Beach.
Stars like Macaulay Culkin (“Home Alone”), Adina Porter (“True Blood”), Ryan Kiera Armstrong (“It Chapter Two”), and Lenox native Finn Wittrock (“Unbroken”) were spotted around town during filming, which wrapped March 12.
Wakanda Forever? How about Woo-kanda Forever?
Already a major hub for Hollywood productions during the last few years, the city of Worcester has scored another filmmaking coup: Production for the “Black Panther” sequel, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” is set to take place in the city next month, a source familiar with the production told Boston.com.
According to MassLive, “Black Panther” crews first visited Worcester in June to do some scouting for a chase scene that will be filmed at a still-unknown location in the city in late August.
The “Black Panther” sequel is only expected to be in town briefly, with primary production on the movie taking place at Marvel’s production hub in Atlanta.
Edgar Luna, who oversees all film productions for the city of Worcester, told Spectrum News that he could not divulge the name of the film, but gave contextual clues that left “Black Panther” as the only possible answer to the mystery project in question.
“We are lucky to have a major Disney production filming here in the next couple of months. It was a movie that was extremely successful in 2018. We are pleased they have selected us,” Luna said. “The previous movie was filmed in Georgia and Korea. Now they’re coming here.”
Jon Hamm is best known for his dramatic role as ad man Don Draper on “Mad Men,” but the veteran actor has done significant work as a comic actor, too. It’s a side he’ll show off in the upcoming “Confess, Fletch,” a film based on a series of 1970s mystery novels that led to the Chevy Chase movies “Fletch” (1985) and “Fletch Lives” (1989).
Hamm was first spotted in Cohasset in early June during pre-production, ahead of filming that took place in July at the palatial Roy Estate. Director Greg Mottola (“Superbad”) kicked off production in late June, with several days of filming taking place in Boston’s South End, along with Worcester and Cohasset.
The film follows Hamm’s Irwin “Fletch” Fletcher, an investigative journalist and master of disguise, as he arrives in Boston and discovers that he’s become the prime suspect in a murder case. Along with Hamm and longtime “Mad Men” co-star (and Boston native) John Slattery, “Confess, Fletch” will feature Kyle MacLachlan (“Twin Peaks”), Annie Mumolo (“Bridesmaids”), Roy Wood Jr. (“The Daily Show”), and Marcia Gay Harden (“Mystic River”).
Showtime’s revival of its award-winning drama “Dexter” began filming in Massachusetts in late January, and will continue until late July, according to a source familiar with the production.
Michael C. Hall is reprising the titular role of Dexter Morgan, who for eight seasons worked as a blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Police Department while living a double life as a vigilante serial killer. Joining Hall for the 10-episode limited series are Clancy Brown (“The Shawshank Redemption”), Julia Jones (“The Mandalorian”), Alano Miller (“Sylvie’s Love”), Johnny Sequoyah (“Believe”), and Jack Alcott (“The Good Lord Bird”).
The show will take place in the fictional upstate New York town of Iron Lake, and primary production has taken place west of I-495. Cities and towns such as Devens, Gardner, Lancaster, Sterling, West Boylston, and Worcester have been used for filming, with New England Studios in Devens serving as a hub for the show, according to two sources familiar with the production.
The biggest film production of the year was undoubtedly “Don’t Look Up,” the Netflix doomsday comedy starring Jennifer Lawrence (“The Hunger Games”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“Titanic”) and about 20 other A-list actors who filmed all around Massachusetts from November 2020 through February 2021.
Directed by Adam McKay (“The Big Short”), the film stars Lawrence and DiCaprio as astronomers who discover a comet that will soon destroy the planet. As they embark on a media tour to inform the world of its impending demise, they are met with ignorance, indifference, and resistance from politicians and the public.
Some of the most noteworthy moments in the production took place in Boston, including: DiCaprio and Lawrence filming in front of dozens of fans at South Station; Jonah Hill (“Superbad”) and Matthew Perry (“Friends”) being booed and pelted with objects while filming a rally scene in front of the Museum of Fine Arts; filmmakers transforming the Financial District into New York City for scenes with DiCaprio, Lawrence, and Tomer Sisley (“We’re the Millers”); a flame-filled riot scene with DiCaprio, Lawrence, and Rob Morgan (“Mudbound”) filmed downtown at Howl at the Moon; and scenes with DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett (“Carol”), and Tyler Perry (“Gone Girl”) filmed at the Fairmont Copley in the Back Bay, including ones featuring a paparazzi mob and a fist fight.
In addition to the aforementioned towns, “Don’t Look Up” also filmed in Brockton, Canton, Chicopee, Fall River, Framingham, North Attleborough, Norton, Salisbury, Westborough, Weymouth, and Worcester.
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” a Whitney Houston biopic starring Naomi Ackie (“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”) as the late singer, is set to begin production in the Boston area in early August. The movie will film in Boston, Quincy, and surrounding towns until sometime in November, according to a source familiar with the production.
Ahead of the start of production, Boston Casting founder Angela Peri said that her company would be casting 4,000 extras for the movie. A series of casting notices were posted to the company’s website.
“I Wanna Dance With Somebody” will be directed by Stella Meghie (“The Photograph”) and released by Sony Pictures. Along with Ackie as Houston, the film will feature Moses Ingram (“The Queen’s Gambit”) as Houston’s longtime assistant/creative director Robyn Crawford.
HBO Max is stepping back in time to film “Julia,” a series about the life of the late culinary icon and longtime Cambridge resident Julia Child.
After shooting a pilot episode in the Boston area in 2020, production on an eight-episode first season began in May, and is expected to run through at least September, according to a source familiar with the production. For the pilot episode, crews filmed in Boston, Cambridge, Dedham, Framingham, Lexington, Lynn, Malden, Waltham, Woburn, and Worcester, and are expected to visit even more towns before the show wraps up production in the fall.
“Julia” stars Sarah Lancashire (“Happy Valley”) as Child and David Hyde Pierce (“Frasier”) as her husband, Paul. The cast will be rounded out by Brittany Bradford (“Bernhardt/Hamlet”), Fran Kranz (“Homecoming”), Fiona Glascott (“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”), Bebe Neuwirth (“Madam Secretary”), Isabella Rossellini (“Silent Retreat”), and Jefferson Mays (“I Am the Night”).
AMC Networks is hitting back at stereotypical gender roles in sitcoms with “Kevin Can Go F*** Himself,” a new series produced by sitcom veteran Rashida Jones (“Parks and Recreation”) and starring Emmy-winning actress Annie Murphy (“Schitt’s Creek”). In the show, which debuted in June on AMC+, Murphy plays a put-upon sitcom wife whose buffoonish husband finally pushes her to a breaking point.
Created by Craig DiGregorio (“Shrill”), the series began filming in Massachusetts in September 2020, and returned to the state in 2021 to finish up its eight hour-long episodes. The show shot scenes in Avon, Brockton, Hingham, Milton, Randolph, and Worcester.
“The Mothership,” which is expected to wrap up production in August, has filmed in Boston, Dover, Natick, and Plainville, among other towns.
According to a plot synopsis released by Netflix, the film centers around Sara Morse (Berry), a woman whose husband mysteriously vanished from their rural farm. When Sara discovers a strange extraterrestrial object underneath their home, she and her kids embark on an adventure to discover the truth about her missing husband and life beyond Earth.
Liev Schreiber (“Spotlight”) and Jon Voight (“Midnight Cowboy”) were spotted in Boston in July as they filmed scenes for Showtime’s upcoming “Ray Donovan” movie, filming scenes outside South Station and in South Boston for the film sequel to the long-running Showtime series.
The duo’s time in Boston was short: “Ray Donovan” only spent a few days in Boston before returning to its primary production location in New York, according to a source familiar with the production.
In the film, Schreiber will reprise his role as Ray Donovan, a professional “fixer” who arranges illicit activities for his high-profile clients, while Voight returns as his menacing father, Mickey Donovan.
It’s Christmas in July in the Boston area, thanks to Ryan Reynolds, Will Ferrell, and Octavia Spencer’s new movie for Apple TV+.
Reynolds and Ferrell kicked off filming in July for “Spirited,” a movie musical reimagining of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol.”
“Spirited” will star Reynolds as an Ebenezer Scrooge-like figure, while Ferrell will play a character akin to the Ghost of Christmas Present and Spencer will play a “good-natured co-worker” of Reynolds, a la Bob Cratchit.
Directed by Sean Anders (“Instant Family”), the Apple TV+ project is expected to film in the Boston area through late October, with scenes already being shot in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood as well as several days of filming in Worcester.
Ben Affleck made his return to Boston earlier this year to film “The Tender Bar,” a coming-of-age drama directed by George Clooney based on the memoir of the same name by J.R. Moehringer. Production began in late February and wrapped in late April, with film crews visiting Boston, Beverly, Cambridge, Ipswich, Lowell, Watertown, and other nearby towns.
“The Tender Bar” tells the story of Moehringer’s childhood living on Long Island without a father, a New York disc jockey who disappeared before J.R. could speak. Seeking a replacement father figure, Moehringer begins spending time at a bar owned by his uncle, where the regulars welcome him as one of their own. Tye Sheridan (“Ready Player One”) will play J.R., with Affleck as his wisecracking uncle Charlie, Lily Rabe (“Vice”) as J.R.’s mother, and Christopher Lloyd (“Back to the Future”) as his grandfather.
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