June 30, 2023

Lights, Camera, Action: Illinois Draws Movie Makers with Renewed Incentives

Summer blockbuster season is officially upon us, making it a great time to be a movie lover. In Illinois, it’s also a golden age for movie makers.

State film production expenditures hit a record-breaking $691 million in 2022 — a 23% increase from the pre-pandemic record set in 2019. And earlier this year, Gov. JB Pritzker extended the Illinois Film Production Tax Credit Act, which offers a 30% tax credit for qualified production spending and labor expenditures. Originally passed in 2008, the credit will now run through 2033 and includes a new program to increase diversity in the state’s film industry.

Illinois is no stranger to the industry – in fact, some of the most iconic scenes ever to hit the silver screen were filmed in Illinois:

  • “The Breakfast Club” (1985) and “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986): Most viewers know that Ferris Bueller’s epic game of hooky took place on the streets of Chicago – there’s even a driving route of filming locations. But director John Hughes brought his experience as a teenager in Northbrook, Illinois into many of his films. The majority of “The Breakfast Club” was shot at Maine North High School in Des Plaines. And the iconic air punch on the football field was shot at Hughes’ alma mater in Northbrook.
  • “Groundhog Day” (1993): Residents of Woodstock, Ill., will have serious déjà vu watching Bill Murray relive the same day over and over, because Harold Ramis’ fan-favorite comedy was filmed on their streets. One of the challenges the production faced was making it seem like the weather was consistent even as they filmed from winter into summer – meaning the cast and crew were spreading fake snow and wearing winter coats well into June.
  • “Batman Begins” (2005) and “The Dark Knight” (2008): The first two installments in Christopher Nolan’s iconic trilogy starring Christian Bale followed the Batmobile prowling the streets of Chicago cast as Gotham City. Viewers can spot the Caped Crusader driving down Lower Wacker Drive, the Joker infiltrating the Old Chicago Main Post Office building, and the climactic Gotham Harbor ferry scene taking place at Navy Pier.
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” (2011): Action aficionados will also recognize the Chicago streets in Michael Bay’s third live-action Transformers film starring Shia LaBeouf. The Decepticons took over Michigan Avenue and other recognizable spots including LaSalle Street, Bacino’s of Lincoln Park, and the Willis Tower. Thankfully, Chicago streets were no worse for the wear — the Transformer wreckage was all CGI.
  • “Candyman” (2021): Written by Jordan Peele and directed by Nia DaCosta, the critically acclaimed slasher film – a sequel to the 1992 film also shot in Chicago – was the first feature film to shoot on location inside the Museum of Contemporary Art. It also includes footage from the North Park neighborhood, Marina City, and the Cabrini–Green Homes.

With the 5th largest GDP in the nation and the 18th largest economy in the world, Illinois is a premier location for film projects. The state provides robust incentive packages, a diverse and talented workforce, a supportive environment, extensive production services and locations with almost every backdrop. For more information about the state’s advantages for the film industry reach out to Intersect Illinois.

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