With five high-profile network TV shows set for filming here, alongside three mega-budget features, so far, 2013 should be the state’s highest grossing year ever – an estimated $225 million — in its nearly 40 years of hosting Hollywood entertainment projects.
The year of the largest capital investment in new and expanded facilities and services and the biggest increase in union labor “has put Chicago on a level playing field with the other film states,” says Local 476 president Brad Matthys.
“We saw this growth coming with Cinespace Studios and the tax incentive. This growth has truly been a team effort and has created the industry we’ve been talking about and working towards for years.”
News broke late Friday night in the Hollywood trades about the four new episodic TV shows, two each for NBC/Universal and two for ABC, that will illuminate the city for the rest of the year. They are:
For NBC/Universal: “Chicago PD,” a spinoff of Dick Wolf’s “Chicago Fire,” starts filming in September to air next January. It’s about police units that fight major street crimes and stars Tania Raymonde, Scott Eastwood, Kelly Blatz, Melissa Segemiller, Jason Beghe and Jon Seda (and there’s talk about a third Wolf production headed here);
Political thriller “Crisis” — a surprise entry since the pilot was filmed in Los Angeles — stars Dermot Mulroney and Gillian Anderson. This is also scheduled for mid-season to air after the Winter Olympics;
For ABC, a network whose shows Chicago has been courting for many years: “Betrayal,” dramatic intrigue starring venerable actor James Cromwell and Hannah Ware (Kelsey Grammer’s daughter in “Boss;”
“Mind Games” is now the official title of the pilot “Influence,” starring Steve Zahn and Christian Slater as brothers, one a con artist and the other bipolar.
The new quartet is expected to shoot from July through the end of the year – alongside the second season of 22 episodes of “Chicago Fire.”
Action, however, gets underway explosively in June with sci-fi epics: the Wachowskis’ “Jupiter Ascending” spending two months here and “Transformers 4,” expected to shoot through October.
Adding to the excitement is Sundance Productions-CNN’s city-reality, 8-part series, “Chicagoland;” no specifics on when and where. And there’s the possibility of Bravo’s just greenlit Chicago-set docudrama, “100 Days of Summer,” heading here as well.
Cooperative efforts among many applauded for this boom
A big hand of appreciation for the boom deservedly goes to Gov. Pat Quinn for his acknowledged support of the film industry, and to the Illinois Production Alliance, the Illinois Film Office, the unions, Cinespace and Chicago Studio City and other businesses for their efforts in creating this record-breaking year.
“Everyone has been working together to bring in the work and it’s paid off,” notes Fletcher Camera’s Tom Fletcher.
Labor had stepped up its game earlier when it could see movies headed here with the establishment of Cinespace. “We’ve been preparing for this day and have the people to handle all this business,” says Local 476’s Mark Hogan.
“We added 140 new members last month, bringing total membership to 1,050 and we are going to be training more new members as the year progresses,” he notes.
All agree that the IPA has been doing an excellent job of promoting the state to Hollywood. “Last August, its L.A. dinner with TV executives, with Gov. Quinn talking about Illinois as a film market paid off,” says Jeff Crabtree, IPA president and political director, Joint Council 25.
“We have a very supportive government, and definitely have plenty of studio space and a strong overall infrastructure to put us on the map for Hollywood productions,” he adds.