“The Dark Knight” in shining armor brought riches to Illinois in 2007, now what about this year?

The frenzy over the opening of “The Dark Knight,” Warner Bros.’ $150-million blockbuster that filmed in Chicago-as-Gotham City last year, has not been overlooked by the governor’s office.

Gov. Blagojevich said in a press release, “?The Dark Knight’ is evidence of the success of the Illinois Film Tax Credit [which] helped Illinois achieve record revenues of $155 million and over 26,000 job hires in 2007.”

He added, “By renewing the tax credit, we have held onto our competitive position and are helping to ensure that filmmakers will continue coming here to make their movies.”

Who am I to contradict the governor’s office. BUT ? thanks to Blagojevich diddling away TWO MONTHS waiting for Johnny Depp to pose with him for a signing photo, the competitive position on which we had a tight grip in 2007 slipped away.

And that was after the House and Senate got through diddling for the previous four months.

And let’s give credit where due ? to deposed former IFO director Brenda Sexton, who in 2006 successfully sold “Knight” producers on all the reasons why Chicago was ideally positioned as the movie’s main locale.

Nonetheless, “The Dark Knight” does shine in golden armor as the single biggest movie ever filmed in the Chicago area.

It contributed more about $40 million to the Illinois economy, provided approximately 4,500 job hires and accounted for a huge chunk of 2007’s $155 million combined film/commercials film revenues.

“The Dark Knight” provided over $17.5 million in wages from combined union jobs (Local 476, Local 714 and SAG). Illinois vendors received nearly $22 million in goods and services sales from the movie.

Last year also saw Illinois film productions hit a high point in the number of films shot here, in their entirety or in part.

In addition to “The Dark Knight,” they included “Wanted,” starring Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman; “Fred Claus,” with Vince Vaughn; “Meet the Browns,” starring Angela Bassett and “The Express,” starring Dennis Quaid; “ER” (TV show), and “My Boys” (TV show).

One way to keep the 2007 momentum going, and regain business lost to other states, would be to increase the tax incentive to 30%, as rumored it might be, and extend it for five years instead of having to worry about whether it will be enacted every January.

That way we could count on many more “Dark Knights” riding into town and waiting for photo ops wouldn’t hold up the action.