Boston, other places for ‘Free Guy’ ‘Cheers’ ‘Jaws’ attract tourists

Think of Massachusetts as Hollywood Northeast. The state’s scenic, urban and historic settings appeal to all genres and appeal to filmmakers seeking authenticity, from the choppy waters of Martha’s Vineyard, where Bruce the Shark terrorized bathers in the hit thriller “Jaws,” to downtown Boston office buildings, where “Free Guy” Ryan Reynolds transformed streetscapes.

“Film tourism is a happy perk of productions,” says John Alzapiedi, deputy director of the Massachusetts Film Office. Although the Film Bureau does not track film tourism per se, and visitors may not initially view the Bay State primarily as a film tourism destination – compared to production hubs like Los Angeles , New York or London – there are enough popular films and the long – Launch sitcom “Cheers” to attract attention. The Bull & Finch bar across from the Boston Commons, universally known as the “Cheers” bar because its facade features prominently in the sitcom’s opening credits, is buzzing with fans today, even though the latest original episode of “Cheers” aired in 1993.

On Locations Tours’ Boston Movie Mile walking tour ends outside the famous bar, and participants are encouraged to sing along to the hit show’s theme song. The show forever changed the fortunes of the neighborhood bar: it’s now one of more than 30 movie/TV venues cited on the tour, which runs through the Boston Public Garden (the “Good Will Hunting” bench near the swans is ready for its close-up), Boston Commons (the cast of “The Departed” played rugby here) and Beacon Hill (“A Civil Action” filmed in a legendary alley).

Massachusetts’ strong film incentives ensure that more places will soon be must-sees. HBO Max’s “Julia” filmed on the scenic bridge in the Public Garden; in Back Bay, the eight-part series made extensive use of the Oval Ballroom and Presidential Suite at Fairmont Copley Plaza. The 110-year-old property is a director’s dream because of its high ceilings and gilded public spaces: Its grand ballroom hosted a major moment in Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” in 2019. (The office of the film has created a map of the filming locations of the classic available in several languages.)

“It’s such an iconic hotel that epitomizes Boston,” says Ellen Ryan, Regional Sales and Marketing Manager, Fairmont Copley Plaza, of the hotel’s distinctive look and ornate turn-of-the-century interiors. Ryan says guests will bring a photo of “American Hustle” (Amy Adams and Christian Bale dancing under the lobby’s mirrored coffered ceiling) and ask for a photo of the hotel’s star spot.

Look for the Copley next in Will Ferrell and Ryan Reynolds’ starring “Spirited,” and the hotel’s Oak Room bar/restaurant starring Jon Hamm in “Confess, Fletch.”

High profile talent including Hamm, Jennifer Lawrence (in Boston for ‘Don’t Look Up’) and George Clooney (‘The Tender Bar’ pictured on the nearby North Shore) typically rent private homes when on location for long periods. However, Boston’s list of luxury hotels with world-class amenities and top-notch appeal continues to grow. The 286-room Newbury Boston (across from the Public Garden and on Newbury Street, Zendaya’s go-to shopping street during the filming of “Challengers”) is outfitted with a remarkable collection of contemporary art and has the hippest restaurant and the most elegant in the city, Contessa by Major Food Group, on its panoramic weatherproof roof. The serenely decorated corner suites offer the ultimate Boston view of classic brownstones and the Common.

The 215-room Four Seasons Dalton, housed in a 61-story oval-shaped tower, has an equally curvy indoor pool and is home to the lively Zuma Japanese restaurant. The Langham Boston recently emerged from a two-year renovation and is the only hotel with a private screening room: the lavish eight-seat Cinema Suite.

Will summer bring moviegoers to Gloucester for the seaside sets of Best Picture Oscar-winning ‘CODA’?

Visitors reliably search for “Jaws” locations on Martha’s Vineyard. Events are already in the works for its 50th anniversary in 2025. “It will be a big thing on the island,” says Carolina Cooney, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce. “The film had a lasting influence on the island and tourism.”

Christy J. Olson