ROCKPORT — Rockport shined on the silver screen masquerading as the quaint, seaside village of Sitka, Alaska, in this summer's box office smash hit, "The Proposal."
"Proposal" fans quickly discovered where the romantic comedy was shot — Motif No. 1, though veiled in Alaskan decor, may have tipped off a few — and many of them soon inquired about the town.
Now, another wave of interest may be on the way. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association brought the film back to the forefront yesterday with a Golden Globe nomination for its lead actress, Sandra Bullock.
The 45-year-old actress received nods for best actress in a comedy or musical for "The Proposal" and best actress in a drama for "The Blind Side."
"I am beyond stunned," Bullock said in a statement. "I will cherish this moment with all the artists I have worked with behind the scenes, who truly make me look good."
The movie, which also starred Ryan Reynolds, Betty White, Craig T. Nelson and Mary Steenburgen, was this summer's first big romantic comedy hit.
The film took in $33.6 million to open as the Hune 19 to 21 weekend's No. 1 movie. At the time, the flick knocked "The Hangover" from the top and delivered the biggest opening ever for Bullock, nearly double that of her previous best of $17.6 million for the 2007 paranormal thriller "Premonition."
Best known for her roles in the films "Crash," "Speed," "Miss Congeniality" and "28 Days," Bullock was on Cape Ann for extended period of time in April 2008 filming the "The Proposal."
The movie made international headlines even before it was released after Bullock and her husband, Jesse James, were involved in a car accident while they were returning to their residence from a dinner in Gloucester. The Gloucester woman whose car crashed into Bullock's SUV on East Main Street in East Gloucester later pleaded guilty to drunken driving and was placed on probation for one year.
For the filming here, Disney donated $7,000 to the town — $1,000 for each day it filmed in Rockport — while also paying for police details, ambulances and donations to local business owners whose buildings were used in the movie.
Scenes for the movie were also shot in Gloucester and Manchester.
Producer Todd Lieberman said the tax incentives offered by the state made Rockport attractive, and eventually creative reasons helped solidify the town as the best place to set up shop.
And set up they did.
Hardly any of its shops were open yet, but Bearskin Neck was abuzz with activity for about a week as filming took place.
With the help of a little Hollywood magic, Bearskin Neck was transformed into Sitka, Alaska. Banners advertising the name of the Alaskan island in both English and Russian hung on light poles along the Neck, and several storefronts were altered for the scene.
The Kanegis Gallery can be seen in the film as the Sitka Internet Cafe, while James Russell Goldsmiths was transformed into Alaska Outfitters.
The Bean & Leaf Cafe, meanwhile, remained open during the filming and got steady business from the film's crew.
Before "The Proposal," it had been five years since Rockport's rugged coastline and quaint downtown shops served as a backdrop for a major Hollywood production. The last film shot in Rockport before "The Proposal" — 2003's "Stuck on You" starring Matt Damon and Greg Kinnear — from 20th Century Fox, gave $5,000 to Rockport, which selectmen used to renovate Boy Scout Hall.
Since "The Proposal," two other movies have been filmed in Rockport. Mel Gibson's "Edge of Darkness" due out in theaters on Jan. 29 and "Hatteras Hotel" — a murder mystery shot for the most part at Rockport's Emerson-Inn-by-the-Sea. That film's title has now been changed to "The Last Harbor."
Bullock faces stout competition in the best actress in a comedy competition. The other nominees are Marion Cotillard for "Nine"; Meryl Streep, "It's Complicated" and "Julie & Julia"; and Julia Roberts for "Duplicity." Roberts was reportedly the first choice to play Bullock's character in "The Proposal." According to the Los Angeles Times, Roberts refused to star in "The Proposal" unless Disney offered her a higher salary; Disney hired Bullock for even less money than it had offered Roberts, and "The Proposal" became one of the highest-grossing romantic comedies ever.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report by staff writer Jonathan L'Ecuyer, who can be reached at 978-283-7000 x 3451 or firstname.lastname@example.org.