Gloucester Daily Times
By Cameron Kittle
June 19, 2009
ESSEX — It’s been three weeks since the star-studded cast of “Grown Ups” arrived in Essex to begin filming at Centennial Grove, and the town is not only buzzing with enthusiasm, but thriving on the added business opportunities as well.
Rumors of celebrity sightings at local spots are circulating daily, including star Salma Hayek’s stop at Silly Goose Toy Store, confirmed by owner Diane Robinson.
The movie also stars Adam Sandler, Chris Rock and Kevin James, and it has brought $150,000 directly to the town to rent Centennial Grove for filming. But merchants say the town’s gains extend far beyond that.
“The statistics are pretty astounding,” said Bob Coviello, owner of Main Street Antiques and member of the Essex Merchants Group. “The numbers are far more impressive than just the $150,000 paid to the town.”
Coviello estimates the movie will bring in close to $1 million locally by the time it’s finished, and Town Administrator Brendhan Zubricki said that he has already seen a wide variety of benefits stemming from the movie.
The Manchester Essex Little League received $25,000 for improvements to the Field of Dreams, the Essex Musical Festival took in $6,000 to relocate its annual event to Memorial Park, and the Essex Youth Commission Summer Camp program picked up a $3,000 donation on top of the $5,000 it was given to relocate.
Coviello said the crews bought about $20,000 worth of antiques from shops throughout the town for their sets in the cottage, and have spent additional money for lumber and food at local restaurants. But the flowing river of money doesn’t stop there, he said.
“Then there’s the excitement effect,” Coviello said. “It draws people here; it draws more tourists and more visitors. Every time somebody says Essex in reference with the movie, it’s advertising for the town.”
Meanwhile, each group that usually stays at Centennial Grove in the summer has received $1,000 to live elsewhere; the Council on Aging, the Essex Shipbuilders Athletic Association and the Manchester Essex Junior Hornets football team were all given $1,000 for relocation purposes.
The movie has also covered the construction of two basketball courts on Centennial Grove: a small one-net court near the cottage and a two-net court in the center of the area. New gravel has been added to the parking lot by the baseball field. The docks by the lake have been renovated and will be left in better condition. An underground electrical line has been installed that might be used for future events at the Field of Dreams.
“There has been quite a residual impact with funds that have been spent in the community,” Zubricki said. “There were a lot of opportunities that did not come to the town per se, but they’re going to the community and businesses.”
All of this without mentioning the renovations to Grove Cottage, which Coviello said is “a palace now.” The lakefront treasure will be left with a new kitchen, new bathrooms and the proper ventilation for a heating or cooling system yet to be installed.
“It’s difficult to quantify everything, but if you bring a few hundred people to the town it’s going to help all the local businesses,” said Selectman Mark Lynch.
“Grown Ups” is one of the many movie projects that have popped up around the state in the past few years, due mainly to legislation that allows any motion picture to claim tax credits on their expenditures.
From 1999 to 2005, Massachusetts saw 10 films produced in the state and gained $67 million over those seven years. In the three years since the tax credit act has been in effect, from 2006 to 2008, the state has been the site of 26 films and gained $545 million, according to the Massachusetts Film Office.
As a matter of comparison, the state received only 2 percent of the $140 million budget for “The Perfect Storm,” which was partly filmed in Gloucester in 1999, but an estimated 70 percent of the $42 million budget for “21,” which was filmed in Boston and Cambridge in 2007.
Cameron Kittle can be reached at email@example.com
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