Chicago helps Illinois become film production destination

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Streaming services, cable, and independent film projects lead expansion of Illinois film industry

information provided by the Office of the Governor

CHICAGO, Ill. (March 1, 2019) – Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Film Office at the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity today announced that 2018 saw continued strong increases in film industry spending, wages, and job hires in Illinois, with total estimated spending and wages up 12 percent since 2017.

Illinois scored a record number of nine original content episodic television programs. Streaming services and Cable expanded their production in the state, with Comedy Central, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon Studios, and, for the first time, HBO all choosing Illinois. The combined total of 332 television, film, digital, and commercial advertising projects generated $473,936,273 in estimated Illinois spending, resulting in 13,848 job hires and nearly 4,000 individual businesses providing goods and services to the industry.

“Not only has Illinois become a destination for a wide range of film production,” said Governor JB Pritzker, “it also has seen the establishment of new businesses that are helping to build a comprehensive film ecosystem in Illinois.”

Among the independent projects recently filmed in Illinois, “Hala” and “Native Son”—directed by Chicago natives Minhal Baig and Rashid Johnson, respectively—both world premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival in US Dramatic Competition and were subsequently purchased by Apple and HBO Films, respectively. “Knives and Skin” directed by Chicago’s own Jennifer Reeder will world premiere at the 2019 Berlinale.

“Come As You Are” produced by Chicago Media Angels and “Saint Frances” directed by Chicago-based filmmaker Alex Thompson will world premiere at the 2019 SXSW film festival. Orland Park-based MPI Media produced its first film in Illinois in 2018, the highly anticipated “Girl on the Third Floor,” starring Chicago-based WWE superstar CM Punk. “Beats,” produced by Chicago native Bob Teitel, found distribution by Netflix for a 2019 release. And the critically acclaimed “Canal Street,” directed by Chicago native Rhyan LaMarr, which previously screened at the American Black Film Festival, was distributed and subsequently expanded its theatrical window in early 2019.

New projects already confirmed for 2019 include Amazon’s new series, “Utopia,” written by Illinois’ own Gillian Flynn (who will serve as the show runner). And 20th Century Fox will produce a limited series, “Mixtape,” for Netflix.

Network primetime hits “Empire” (FOX), “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago PD,” and “Chicago Med” (NBC) were back for filming in Illinois, joined by “Shameless” (Showtime), “Easy” (Netflix), and “The Chi” (Showtime), which returned to film their new seasons. New productions that made their home in Illinois in 2018 include: “Proven Innocent” (FOX), “Red Line” (CBS), “Southside” (Comedy Central), and the pilot for “Love Craft Country” (HBO).

Commercial advertising continued to be a mainstay, with over 259 projects filmed in Illinois in 2018.

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