Record Year for Illinois Film Industry

2013 was a record year for Illinois’ film industry, generating $358 million in spending, which almost doubled the previous record year of $184 million set in 2012. 

The huge jump in spending was helped by a record six television series being filmed in Chicago, including Chicago Fire and its’ spinoff Chicago PD. Also contributing to the increase were multiple blockbuster films that include Transformers 4, Divergent, and Jupiter Ascending; and approximately 150 commercial productions. 

“These record-breaking numbers show there is no better place to film than Illinois.” Governor Pat Quinn said, while visiting the set of Chicago Fire. “Productions like Chicago Fire are helping grow and strengthen Illinois’ economy by creating thousands of jobs across the state, from actors to painters and carpenters, and the hundreds of small businesses that serve the industry.”

Since production of Chicago Fire began in 2011 it has spent nearly $111 million in the local economy, with $58 million spent in 2013 alone. Of the $358 million spent in 2013, $203 million went directly to Illinois wages. 

“Our film production tax credits, access to world-class infrastructure, and a nationally respected labor pool make Illinois a winning destination for production companies.” Betsy Steinberg, managing director of the Illinois Film Office, said.

One of the reasons for the continued growth of Illinois’ film industry is the Cinespace complex located in Chicago that opened in 2011. The 1.2 million square feet complex includes 18 stages, and is located on the 48.2 acre site of the old Ryerson Steel factory. 

“Our state has the biggest sound stage outside of Hollywood.” Governor Quinn said. “We repurposed the building that used to be the Ryerson Steel Factory. It served our state and people well for almost a century, but times change. In the 21st century we wanted to make sure film making, TV productions, and commercials were here in Illinois.”

Another reason behind the growth is the Illinois Film Tax Credit. The 30 percent tax credit is given to filmmakers for the money spent on Illinois goods and services, which include the wages paid to Illinois residents. Governor Quinn signed a 10 year extension to the credit in 2011, allowing for further growth down the road. Since the credit was passed in 2008 it has helped bring $1.3 billion in revenue to the state. 

“By every measure the Illinois Film Tax Credit act has been a huge success in fostering the development of a world class television and film industry in Illinois that has strengthened and diversified the economy, created thousands of jobs, and helped support local businesses across the state,”  Derek Haas, Chicago Fire co-creator, said. 

Since taking office Governor Quinn has pushed for the growth of the arts as a way to help improve Illinois’ economy.  In 2013 he helped create the Illinois Creative Economy Initiative to help explore innovative strategies that could help grow the creative economy in Illinois. In 2012 Governor Quinn was awarded the Public Leadership in the Arts Award from Americans for the Arts. 

“We want to be a creative place, and that’s what Illinois has always been.” Governor Quinn said.