This weekend, after a massive gift wrapping marathon, we decided to sit down with a hot cup of Nutella hot chocolate for a relaxing movie night. Needing a reprieve from all things holiday-related, we opted for a classic hometown favorite…a romantic comedy from 1999 featuring Richard Gere, Julia Roberts, and #mdscoolestsmalltown, Berlin! Fifteen years after the filming of Runaway Bride, Berlin and other surrounding towns continue to glow in the cinematic spotlight. With the latest news of the Ocean City shot Ping Pong Summer hitting Sundance Film Festival next month, we couldn’t resist a look back at our area film debuts.

The Town of Berlin became the imaginary “Hale, Maryland” during production of Runaway Bride to create the backdrop of a quaint town for the story. A majority of the scenes that take place in Hale occur in front of and inside the historic Atlantic Hotel. Here, Gere’s character stays while conducting interviews, Roberts’ also climbs out a hotel window as an attempted escape. The current manager of the Atlantic Hotel, Angela Reynolds told us “Runaway Bride appears to be as popular now as it was in 1999 …We have women coming into the hotel who want to know nothing more than, what room did Richard Gere stay in.” Reynolds reported that those who do visit Gere’s room “if it is not occupied …touch the bed, take photos of the room and themselves in the room.  We have people who come and stay in that room and tell us they didn’t sleep a wink all night they were so thrilled to be there” Reynolds also commented.

For those who want to see the other scenes from the film, such as “the bridal shop, the hair salon, the hardware store, etc,” as Reynolds said, there is also a Runaway Bride walking tour. Reynolds detailed the popularity of the tour saying, “the Town of Berlin cannot keep the Runaway Bride Walking Tour Brochures in print.  We, at the hotel, are constantly out of stock.”

Runaway Bride however is not the only movie to have been filmed in Berlin. In 2002, the crew of Disney’s Tuck Everlasting came to town and transformed Berlin into the imaginary “Treegap.” For this production, “Berlin was transported back to the turn of the century complete with dirt roads, horses and carriages, and period costumes” as Berlin’s website reports. Tuck Everlasting also brought actors such as Alexis Bledel from Gilmore Girls and Sissy Spacek to the Shore.

Ocean City also has claim to cinematic stardom, with the filming of Ping Pong Summer in the resort town last fall. The independent film is heading to Sundance Film  Festival on January 18, hitting the big screen for its world premiere. Ping Pong Summer wrapped production in Ocean City on October 26, 2012, just one day before Hurricane Sandy hit. Ironically, the last shot was filmed on the iconic Ocean City Fishing Pier, which suffered significant damage during the storm. In addition to the pier, the film highlights many of our beloved spots including the Boardwalk, Trimper’s, Phillips Seafood, Anthony’s Beer, Wine & Deli, Old Pro Golf, Hooper’s Crabhouse and more. Native Ocean City resident and Worcester Prep student Emmi Shockley is also featured in the film as the main character’s love interest.

We all know that there are ample reasons to love the Eastern Shore, but it’s always a nice treat to see our hometown shine on the big screen.