Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce and local partners to host movie screenings, reception and presentation by Director Donald Petrie
First they visit the Seaport. Then the Aquarium. Then visitors ask, "Where's Mystic Pizza?"
Few towns' identities and tourist appeal have been enhanced to the degree that Mystic has been put on the map through the film Mystic Pizza, which made its debut in 1988. "There was a lot of excitement here when the movie was filming, but we had no idea how popular it would be," said John Zelepos, Mystic Pizza's owner. "Since then, both the town and our restaurant have tripled in size and visitors. And we continue to sell Mystic Pizza T-shirts and movie DVDs at our restaurant."
Penned by screenwriter Amy Holden Jones while frequenting the laundromat next to the now-famous eatery, Mystic Pizza offers a great example of how film productions have and are continuing to generate local pride and new business within the cities and towns that host film locations throughout the state.
On Friday, October 17, 20 years after the release of the indie film-turned-phenonomenon starring Julia Roberts, those associated with bringing the production to Connecticut and hosting the various locations in which it was filmed will partner with its director, one of its leading actors and the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism in a 20th anniversary celebration.
The festivities include two showings of the film that evening at Olde Mystick Village Arts Cinemas at 8:00 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. Each showing will include an introduction by Mystic Pizza's director, Donald Petrie, and lead actor William R. Moses. Moses played Tim Travers, the married architect who Kat (Annabeth Gish) falls for in the movie.
In addition to the movie showings, a special 20th Anniversary reception will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Hilton Mystic's Grand Ballroom, where guests will have the opportunity to meet both Petrie and Moses. Appetizers and genuine Mystic Pizza will be served with music by Jammin 107.7 WHJM and Soft Rock 106.5 WBMW.
Petrie won the Independent Film Spirit Award for Best First Feature in 1988 for directing Mystic Pizza. He went on to direct Grumpy Old Men, Miss Congeniality and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. Moses has been in numerous films and television shows including the Perry Mason series, NCIS, Cold Case, Crossing Jordan and CSI: Miami.
Tickets for the Mystic Pizza 20th Anniversary reception plus the 8:00pm screening are $30 and can be purchased at the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce. Tickets for the 8:00 p.m. or 8:20 p.m. screening, only, are $20 and can be purchased at the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce or the Olde Mistick Village Arts Cinemas.
Since its enactment on January 1, 2006, Connecticut's 30 percent digital media and motion picture tax credit program has helped attract over 70 film and television productions to the state, which have in turn generated both direct and indirect economic impacts, including sales for local businesses, new jobs and associated increases in sales and personal income tax revenue to the state.
"In our efforts to build an infrastructure for the film industry that provides lasting economic benefits for our state,“ said Governor M. Jodi Rell, “this event serves to recognize the success of productions such as Mystic Pizza, which has and continues to support tourism for one of our nation's most vibrant and historic seaports."
Michael Blair, who in 1988 was warden to the borough of Stonington, worked with the movie's producers to find a location where Mystic Pizza interior scenes would be filmed. The result: A sound stage on the second floor of the Garbo Lobster warehouse in that town. "To achieve an authentic feel in the movie, the producers hired many extras from Mystic, including local actor Bucky Walsh, who had a great speaking part as Mystic Pizza's dishwasher," said Blair, who now heads Prudential Connecticut / Pequot Commercial Properties and is chairman for the October 17 event.
"Mystic Pizza has done so much for this town," said Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tricia Cunningham. "People still come up to me today and tell me about their experiences as extras in the movie. It's really put us on the map."
“To prove that point, we have created a special 20th Anniversary Mystic Pizza Movie Trail map,” said Karen Senich, executive director of the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. Visitors may use the fun, easy to follow map tour to enjoy Mystic Pizza film locations in New London, Mystic, Stonington, Stonington Borough and Pawcatuck. The map maybe downloaded from www.cultureandtourism.org or www.ctfilm.com and obtained by visiting the Greater Mystic Chamber of Commerce.
About the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism
The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism brings together tourism, film, history and the arts. Its mission is to preserve and promote Connecticut’s cultural and tourism assets in order to enhance the quality of life and economic vitality of the state. The Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism's new offices, which include a gallery, are located at One Constitution Plaza, Hartford, Connecticut. The Commission's arts gallery is open to the public weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The space features changing exhibits that directly relate to the Commission’s programs across all four divisions. For more information, log on to cultureandtourism.org.
About the Film Division
The Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism’s film division administers the state’s tax credit program for film and digital media and provides fast and responsive service to the production companies filming throughout the state, providing production coordination and location assistance, working with production companies, state agencies, cities and towns, schools and privately-owned businesses and locations. The Commission assists production companies looking to film in the state with best operating procedures, permits and permissions, location identification, crew, accommodations, equipment, on-site support and other ongoing production-related activities.