Contact Us

Chicago's Film Boom

Chicago's Film Boom

Mr. DeMille, Chicago's ready for its close-up. The results are in from last week's survey about Chicago and the film industry. More than three-quarters of you say Chicago should challenge Vancouver in the "battle to pretend to be other cities on film."


Almost 76% of you support a larger film industry presence in Chicago and tell us the city's got the goods to make it happen. A recap of TV shoots around town this year: NBC's Chicago Fire (could be a spinoff this fall); ABC's Betrayal, Influence, and Doubt; and reshoots of USA's Sirens. This summer be on the lookout for three feature films: Summit Entertainment's Divergent, Warner Bros'Jupiter Ascending (a Wachowski flick), and yet another Transformers. (Has anyone named their kid Optimus Prime yet?)


Some notable comments on why Chicago can and should compete with the likes of Canada, Georgia, Louisiana, and Michigan to be a production hub and snag screen time:

  • "The variety of architecture, the neighborhoods, the lakefront... and all the great restaurants for the cast and crew to dine in... why would any producer/director go anywhere else? Of course, they have to find that two-week window where we actually have enough sunshine for them to do a shoot!"

  • "It's a low-cost way to drive tourism, and brings high-income earners to the area on a regular basis, which helps stimulate the economy with their spending. Providing tax breaks to businesses that otherwise wouldn't be here anyway to attract them seems like a no brainer to me."

  • "Good for tourism and real estate."


Chicago Film Office director Rich Moskal (snapped at the Chicago International Film Festival) says last year's production was record-breaking in the revenue it generated ($184M in direct spending, the state says), most notably from four full-time TV series setting up shop (FOX's The Mob Doctor, NBC's Chicago Fire, MTV's Underemployed, and Starz series Boss). And why did they choose the Windy City? Our aesthetic has high production value, top local talent in front and behind the camera, and great cooperation in helping multiple shows shoot simultaneously, Rich tells us. Not to mention Illinois's 30% tax credit to production companies filming in state, which Gov. Quinn extended 10 years in 2011.

[caption id="attachment_62172" align="alignnone" ]Screen Shot 2013-04-17 at 11.13.04 AM Photo credit: John Bramley; 2004 Columbia Pictures Industries[/caption]

Chicago has the film credits to prove it can play its charming self, impersonate cities like NY or DC, and even be the backdrop of fictitious locales like Gotham City or Metropolis (Man of Steel's out this summer), Rich says. Our vintage architecture plays well for period films, proximity to rural Midwest settings is a plus, and the 2011 addition of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios helps accommodate a large volume of production, he adds. Send photos of any film shoots or celebrity sightings to!