MARBLEHEAD — For nearly a century, Hollywood has sent crews to film scenes in Marblehead and Swampscott, and during that time, actors such as Cher, Dustin Hoffman, and Mark Wahlberg have readied for their close-ups on these coastal streets.
Until now, Hollywood has never used the two towns as a base for a major film. Beginning on May 21 that will change. That’s when Adam Sandler will begin shooting “Grown Ups 2,” which will also star Chris Rock, David Spade, Taylor Lautner, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, Salma Hayek, Maya Rudolph, David Henrie, and Shaquille O’Neal.
The film is a sequel to 2010’s “Grown Ups” – which focused on childhood friends reuniting for a weekend – and starred Sandler and former “Saturday Night Live” cast members Spade, Rock, and Schneider. According to Box Office Mojo, the film cost $80 million to produce and returned $271 million in worldwide gross revenue. Some of that film was shot in Essex, and some in Marblehead.
According to location scouts for the Columbia Pictures film, at least half of the sequel will be shot in Marblehead, and 25 percent in Swampscott. The rest of the film will be shot on the North Shore. Filming will run through Aug. 17. In Marblehead, filming locations include Old Town, downtown, the town’s middle school, and at a house in Marblehead Neck. In Swampscott, producers are planning to spend four days filming inside the middle school in late May and June. Also scenes are planned at the commuter rail station on Railroad Avenue that will probably include former NBA All-Star O’Neal, who is playing a police officer in the film.
The film’s producers withdrew a request to use Marblehead High School’s football field in the movie because of opposition generated from local residents. The proposal had called for digging up the field and install an in-ground swimming pool and a basketball court, with $125,000 offered to rebuild the field after the scenes were filmed.
While scenes from Marblehead, Swampscott, and other North Shore towns will be edited together to create the fictional town of “Stanton,” local officials and business owners are more focused on the spillover revenue a Hollywood film generates when it shoots on location. They say there is no way to judge the overall economic impact over the next four months, but it’s clear there will be a lot of spending going on.
In Swampscott, the film’s producers will pay the town $20,000 to rent the municipally owned former Temple Israel and the parking lot behind Phillips Park. The film will set up production offices and park its trucks at the former temple, and will also leave its trucks overnight at the park. While no contracts had been signed to use the town’s schools, Marblehead and Swampscott will also receive funds to rent those properties.
“We want to spend our money here,” Mark Fitzgerald, a location scout for the film, told the Swampscott Board of Selectmen in late April. “We want it to be a good experience for everybody, including the shop owners right down to the kids who want to meet Adam.”
At that meeting, Fitzgerald said the film’s producers will try to buy locally, and purchase everything from lumber to pizza from town businesses.
Richard Malagrifa, chairman of the Swampscott Board of Selectmen, said the revenue from renting municipal properties will help the town’s bottom line but added that it could open the door for other films to come to town. Last year Wahlberg shot scenes for his upcoming film “Ted” in Swampscott.
“We’re welcoming them with open arms and hope other productions will come,” he said.
In Marblehead, Hollywood cameras first arrived for the Mary Pickford silent film, “The Pride of the Clan,” in 1917. In 1958, sections of “Home Before Dark” were shot in town. In 1974, a scene from “Coma” was filmed at the Landing restaurant. In 1986, producers used Abbot Hall for scenes in “The Witches of Eastwick,” which starred Cher. Also in the 1990s, “The Good Son” and “Hocus Pocus” were filmed in Marblehead. In 2002, Hoffman shot several scenes for “Moonlight Mile” on Washington Street, and also filmed in Swampscott.
In downtown Marblehead, locals are eager to do business or just have a brush with fame by meeting one of the stars.
“It’s an economic boon for the town,” said Harry Christensen, a Marblehead selectman, who remembers watching “Home Before Dark” being filmed in the late 1950s.
On Atlantic Avenue, where several storefronts have been empty for months, business owners are hoping the film will bring tourists who want to catch a glimpse of the stars. “The streets have been pretty quiet here, so hopefully it will bring in a lot of traffic and excitement,” said Cheryl Burke, owner of the Java Sun, a popular downtown coffee shop.
Up the road, Jean Carlson who co-owns a consignment shop, said representatives of the film already had purchased some lamps and other props from her shop for the film.
“It’s exciting for everyone, and everyone will benefit,” she said.
At nearby Evan’s New York Style Deli,owner Evan Madoff said he is gearing up to provide food for the film. Over the last three years, Madoff said he has been a go-to for locally shot Sandler films.
Madoff said Sandler is a fan of the deli’s pastrami knishes but won’t be eating them every day. “If he’s watching his weight then he’ll have my minestrone soup, which we make special for him,” said Madoff.
Steven A. Rosenberg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @WriteRosenberg.