Essex still reaping benefits from filming of ‘Grown Ups’

By Jonathan Phelps
Gloucester Daily Times
October 24, 2009 12:08 am


ESSEX — The actors are gone, the production crews are gone and most of the set from Adam Sandler’s upcoming movie “Grown Ups” built at Centennial Grove has been taken down. But the effects of this summer’s local filming are still being felt.

“The town has benefitted greatly from this movie being filmed here,” said Selectman Ray Randall, “and those benefits continue to this day.”

The town of Essex announced this week that Centennial Grove is once again open to the public — with some significant improvements — after being shut down all summer as a result of the high-profile filming that brought Sandler, Chris Rock, Kevin James and Salma Hayek to Cape Ann for several weeks, not to mention hundreds of production crew members, movie extras and tourists that came with them.

The production crew built — and now left behind — two new basketball courts at the Grove that were used in the taping; the parking lot has been fixed up, and the local Field of Dreams has been reseeded because of damage caused by production vehicles parking there.

The Centennial Grove improvements were paid for by the film’s production company, Lakefront Productions Inc., and that was on top of the $150,000 the company paid the town under an agreement with selectmen. The movie money went into the town’s general fund, according to Randall.

Beyond the $150,000 the town received from renting the property and the additional improvements done to Centennial Grove, many local officials and business owners say the movie has pumped close to $1 million into the local economy during this recession. Antique stores, restaurants, local builders and saw mills all benefitted from having the production company’s presence in town.

Markham Lumber & Tree Services on Western Avenue was about to lay off one of its three crew members before it landed a contract with Lakefront Productions. The company was hired to provide specialized lumber to help build a boat house and a dock on Chebacco Lake for the set.

“It was a real blessing for us,” said Bob Tyack, who owns Markham Lumber with his son. “This has been a tough time for everyone in the building business, the work allowed us to keep our whole crew on full-time this summer.”

Tyack said Lakefront Productions was very committed to local businesses; he was even called in to work on the movie “ZooKeeper,” another Sandler movie filmed at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and also produced by Lakefront.

Bob Coviello, owner of Main Street Antiques and a member of the Essex Merchants Group, said the company bought $10,000 worth of antiques from his store alone. Coviello said the production crew also visited Howard’s Flying Dragon Antique and the White Elephant Shop, both on Main Street.

“It wasn’t just the frosting on the cake,” Coviello said about the business generated from the movie, “it was the cake.”

Tom Shea’s on Main Street became a hot spot for many of the crew members.

“We had a lot of crew members come in for lunch almost everyday and they would come back later in the evening for a few drinks,” said manager Carol Shepard. “It was fun; they were a good group of people.”

Sandler even came in himself with his wife to watch a Yankees-Red Sox game. “But the Red Sox won that night,” said Shepard; Sandler is a well-known Yankees’ fan.

There were some inconveniences to the town by agreeing to allow the movie production to take over Centennial Grove and the Field of Dreams. Many groups and summer programs had to be relocated, but each group was given $1,000 compensation from the production company to find new facilities. Manchester Essex Little League was given $25,000 for further improvements to the Field of Dreams; the Essex Musical Festival took in $6,000; and the Essex Youth Commission got a $3,000 donation above the $5,000 it originally received to relocate.

“Essex hasn’t been burdened in anyway,” said Randall. “The benefits outweighed the inconvenience of moving all the programs around.”

The Grove cottage is still off limits because the film’s production company has extended its agreement, slated to end Sept. 15, with the town. Lakefront is paying an additional $500 a day to keep the cottage available through at least November in case any scenes need to be reshot.

The cottage will be left with a new kitchen, new bathrooms and new heating and cooling systems.

“They have left the property in better condition then they found it,” Randall said.

Jonathan Phelps can be reached at

Centennial Grove in Essex, except for the cottage, is open to the public again after being closed all summer for filming of the movie “Grown Ups.” The production company renovated the buildings on the property, and installed a basketball court, improved the parking lots and replanted grass, right. Gloucester Daily Times
The production company for “Grown Ups” left the docks they used for filming at Centennial Grove in Essex. Gloucester Daily Times
The production company also improved the parking lots and replanted grass at Centennial Grove. Gloucester Daily Times

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