Although the smallest of all the states, at only 1,214 square miles, Rhode Island actually has quite a bit. Since it’s bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and has three rivers, water is abundant, and there are 8 beaches and ample opportunities for sailing. There are also 22 state parks within the 393,000 acres of forest land in the state.
One of the thirteen original colonies, the 13th to enter the union to be exact, there’s also a lot of history to the state. From the site of the historical burning of the Gaspee in 1772 to the Gilded Age mansions of Newport, like The Breakers, the state has been part of America’s history since before it was even America.
The state is also home to some firsts. The first speeding ticket was given out in 1904, the first polo game was played in 1886, the first golf tournament was in 1895, all of these in Newport. And if you ever find yourself at the Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill, know that it is the oldest as well, built in 1876.
Another thing the tiny state is also known for? Being the homebased for a variety of different movies over the years. See below for our list of some of the most interesting:
Movies filmed in Rhode Island
27 Dresses (2008)
This romcom starred Katherine Heigl and James Marsden. Jane is a big fan of weddings; in fact, she has been a bridesmaid 27 times. But when her sister gets engaged to her long-time crush, that out begins to change. Some filming was done in Providence, Cumberland, Warwick, Pawtucket, East Greenwich, and Newport.
1 h 50 min PG-13
Dan in Real Life (2007)
This dramedy starred Steve Carell, Juliette Binoche, and Alison Pill. A single parent writes for an advice column, but when it comes to his own family, he’s entirely unsure of how to handle them; especially when his brother brings his love interest to a family gathering. Filming was done in Narragansett, Providence, and Jamestown.
1 h 38 min | PG-13
Outside Providence (1999)
This teen comedy was based on a 1988 novel by Peter Farrelly, which was based on his own experiences in high school. It starred Shawn Hatosy, Alec Baldwin, and Amy Smart. Tim’s life is going nowhere fast, including being sent to a prep school to avoid jail time. Shots were done in Pawtucket, Woonsocket, Providence, Cranston, and Foxborough.
1 h 36 min | R
The Proposal (2009)
This romcom starred Sandra Bullock as a top executive at a NY book publisher. But when her visa runs out, she must either face deportation or fake an impending marriage to Ryan Reynolds. Other costars included Betty White, Craig T. Nelson, and Mary Steenburgen. Although set in New York and Alaska, some filming was done in Newport.
1 h 47 min | PG-13
Meet Joe Black (1998)
This fantasy romance starred Brad Pitt, Claire Forlani, and Anthony Hopkins. It was based on a 1934 film, which was based on a 1924 Italian play. In order to cheat Death, who has taken its form within Pitt’s body, Hopkins’s Parrish must teach Death about life, which includes falling in love. Filming was done in Warwick.
3h | PG-13
This dramedy starred Cher, Winona Ryder, and Christina Ricci in her first film. It was based upon a 1986 novel by Patty Dann and was set in the 60s. Rachel is an unconventional mother. Her youngest, Kate, appreciates this, but her teenager, Charlotte, despises it. The movie was set in MA with some filming done in Pawtucket.
1 h 50 min | PG-13
American Buffalo (1996)
This drama was based on a 1975 play by David Mamet and starred Dennis Franz, Dustin Hoffman, and Sean Nelson. When Franz’s Donny decides to steal one of his customer’s coin collections, he convinces a drug addict to help. But he soon enough loses confidence in that decision. This film was done entirely in Pawtucket.
1 h 27 min | R
Measure of a Man (2018)
This film was based on Robert Lipsyte’s 1977 novel, One Fat Summer. It starred Donald Sutherland, Blake Cooper, Luke Wilson, and Judy Greer. The movie was set in the 1970s and tells the story of a teen who develops a kinship with an unlikely source, a Wall Street executive. The film was done exclusively in Rhode Island.
1 h 40 min | PG-13
This action movie was based on a comic by Peter M. Lenkov and had Ryan Reynolds and Jeff Bridges in lead roles with Mary Louise Parker and Kevin Bacon supporting. Reynolds’ Nick is new to the Rest in Peace Department, but it seems like crimes committed by bad spirits never stop. Some filming was done in Providence.
1 h 36 min | PG-13
The Age of Innocence (1993)
Based upon Edith Wharton’s 1920 novel, this period romance was director Martin Scorsese’s 15th movie. It starred Daniel Day Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Winona Ryder. Newland is a happily engaged, extremely wealthy lawyer. Until his fiancé’s cousin arrives in NY. Some filming was done in Portsmouth.
2 h 18 min | PG
The Block Island Sound (2020)
This sci-fi horror movie starred Michaela McManus and Chris Sheffield. Something weird is going on with the wildlife on Block Island. And it may or may not involve Harry’s father Tom, who keeps disappearing with his fishing boat in the middle of the night. Filming was done on Block Island, Narragansett, and Jamestown.
1 h 38 min | 16+
High Society (1956)
This musical starred Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Grace Kelly. It was based on a 1940 film, The Philadelphia Story, which was based on Philip Barry’s 1939 play. Tracy (Kelly) is due to marry George. But there’s her ex-husband, Dexter (Crosby). And what about Mike (Sinatra)? The film was set in Newport with some filming done there.
1 h 51 min | NR
There’s Something About Mary (1998)
Movie number two directed by the Farrelly brothers, this one starred Ben Stiller as a man obsessed with Cameron Diaz’s Mary. And there’s also Matt Dillon, Lee Evans, and Chris Elliot who are equally obsessed with her. And don’t forget Brett Favre. The film was partly set in Providence with some filming done there.
1 h 59 min | R
The Great Gatsby (1974)
This drama was based upon F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel. It was the 2nd film adaptation and starred Robert Redford, Sam Waterston, and Mia Farrow. When Nick finally gets to meet his wealthy Long Island neighbor, Jay Gatsby, his life (and many of those around him) is forever altered. Some filming was done in Newport and Bristol.
2 h 23 min | 13+
This historical drama was directed by Steven Spielberg, his 18th. The movie was based on actual events that occurred in 1839 on La Amistad, a Spanish slave ship that was taken over by a slave uprising. Main stars included Anthony Hopkins, Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, and Djimon Hounsou. Some filming was done in Pawtucket and Newport.
2 h 34 min | R
The Purge: Election Year (2016)
Movie number three in the series, this horror film starred Elizabeth Mitchell, Mykelti Williamson, and Frank Grillo. When a presidential candidate decides she wants to put an end to the annual purge, it doesn’t go over very well for many. Filming was done in Woonsocket and Providence.
1 h 48 min | R
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Director Wes Anderson’s 7th movie, this dramedy had an ensemble cast, including Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, and Jason Schwartzman. Set in the 60s, it tells the story of two kindred pre-teens who become pen pals and eventually run off together. Some filming was done in Jamestown, Rockville, Newport, and Narragansett Bay.
1 h 33 min | PG-13
Considering The Ocean State is the smallest state in the nation, it’s no surprise that its population, little over one million ranks 45th. But as you can see by this list, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s too small for Hollywood filmmakers to set up their cameras.