Chicago will be awash with sci-fi characters heating up the summer scene when three big-budget fantasy films with marquee name actors and an army of crews start shooting here April through October.
The biggest film of the futuristic trio is director Michael Bay’s “Transformers 4,” which is expected to return in June to the city the Decepticons had turned into rubble four years earlier.
Neither the production schedule nor cast has been completed, although Chicago location scouts have been hired and the L.A. production staff is expected to land here en masse in June and reportedly will shoot from July through October.
Executive producer/star Mark Wahlberg said he’ll be hunting for a house rental for four months, which suggests the production will be enjoying its entire summer here.
In earlier interviews, Bay promised that while “Transformers 4” would have “the same lineage, it’s going in a full, new, different direction” with a new cast and a new design that will feel natural as it moves on.
That might explain why Wahlberg (co-executive producer with Steven Spielberg on the movie) and Jack Reynor are the only two signed actors announced to date. There’s internet chatter, however, about Josh Duhamel returning to reprise his character.
“Transformers 4’s” budget is also subject to speculation, but since 2009’s “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” that filmed here had an estimated $200 million budget (and earned $836 million worldwide), the budget for the new film in the franchise should be comparable.
The feature kicking off Chicago’s sci-fi summer is “Divergent,” based on Veronica Roth’s young adult novel set in a dystopian future. Budgeted at $40 million and directed by Neil Burger, it is slated to film from April 9 through June 30.
Stars announced thus far are Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet. It has a May, 2014 release date.
Overlapping production of “Divergent” and “Transformers 4” is the Wachowskis’ “Jupiter Ascending.” Filming reportedly starts June 24 for four-to-five weeks. Andy and Lana Wachowski are co-directors of the screenplay written by Lana.
Its formidable cast includes Mila Kunis, Channing Tatum, Eddie Redmayne, Sean Bean and Douglas Booth,
Local 476’s Mark Hogan estimates each feature will require 150 to 200 crew members.
“Divergent” is headquartering at Cinespace studios, along with current TV pilots “Betrayal” and Influence.” “Transformers 4” has not announced where it will be headquartering although the chances are good, given its space and equipment needs, that it will sign with Cinespace.
As for where “Jupiter Ascending” will land — silence.