Largest U.S. film studio outside Hollywood opens in Chicago

11:06, May 11, 2011      

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What do "Batman: The Dark Night," and the upcoming movies "Transformers 3" and "Superman: Man of Steel" have in common? They all have Chicago as a filming location.

On Tuesday, Chicago was touted anew as "a world class film destination" with the opening of a state-of-the-art film and television studio, said to be the largest facility in the United States outside Hollywood.

Joined by Emmy Award-winning actor Kelsey Grammer and the producers of the new Chicago-inspired TV series "Boss," Illinois Governor Pat Quinn announced that the state is investing five million U.S. dollars into the new privately-owned Cinespace Chicago Film Studios.

"We want to make sure that Chicago, Illinois, is a place where when you come to make a TV show or a movie, you get a great studio space," Quinn said following a stop at the southwest side facility, which was originally a steel mill.

During the event, Quinn also announced a record 161-million-dollar in spending on film and television projects for 2010 in Illinois, creating an estimated 8,000 jobs.

"That's what this is all about, real jobs for hardworking men and women who know how to do tough, challenging things on deadline," Quinn said.

"It's one of the great things about our own state of Illinois, when folks comes to put on movies and TV show productions, they know that our crews are second to none," Quinn added. "They know what they're doing."

The 5 million dollars Illinois is investing to construct Cinespace comes from the "Illinois Jobs Now!" capital program. But that is only a small percentage of the 80 million dollars in private investment by Toronto-based studio owner Nick Mirkopoulos.

"Practically, to make it clear, I provide the steak, the state provides the toothpick," Mirkopoulos said in explaining his investment to laughter from the audience.

The family-owned company has been in business for 23 years and has hosted more than 1,000 films.

Asked about the practicality of filming in Chicago, Mirkopoulos said, "Chicago is not the cheapest, but it is the best."

The new Chicago studio will eventually be expanded to 1.2 million square feet (111, 000 square meters) of space that can accommodate three to six productions at the same time, potentially creating thousands of film industry jobs, according to Betsy Steinberg, director of the Illinois Film Office (IFO).

Already, the studio has served as location for the current filming of "Boss" as well parts of "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and the new Fox Television show "The Chicago Code."

"Our film production industry is thriving, but the opening of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios launches a new era when it comes to attracting big budget movies and TV series," said Steinberg.

In 2010, big budget projects like "Transformers 3," "The Dilemma" and "Contagion" were filmed in Chicago.

To make it attractive for producers to film in Chicago and other parts of the Illinois, the state legislature passed a law offering a 30 percent tax credit for money spent on Illinois goods and services, including wages paid to Illinois residents.

Since its inception in 2008, the Film Tax Credit has helped bring over half a billion dollars in revenue to the state and over 10,000 full time equivalent jobs.

Source: Xinhua

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