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Why doesn’t Illinois rank higher in film production?


Legendary TV producer Dick Wolf shoots “Chicago P.D.,” “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago Med” in Chicago. This summer, the city is the set for three major movies, including “Widows,” directed by Steve McQueen and featuring local actress Carrie Coon, and “The Pages,” starring Jamie Lee Curtis. Last year, makers of movies and TV shows spent $499 million in Illinois, a 51 percent bump over 2015.

Now how’s this for a plot twist? Illinois is not the third-biggest state for film after California and New York. Georgia is. In the year that ended July 1, film and TV producers spent $2.7 billion in Georgia—more than five times what they spent in Illinois—generating an economic impact of $9.5 billion, according to that state’s film office. Nearly 20 major studios and production houses, including Marvel, have opened offices in Georgia. Directors and producers are relocating there so they can work year-round. A Chicago-based film investor has even launched a fund to support independent films in Georgia.

Both states have beautiful locations and ample facilities for post-production; Chicago also boasts a wealth of talent due to its thriving comedy and theater scenes. Both states also offer 30 percent tax credits to film and television producers—and that’s where the difference lies. While Georgia gives breaks on whatever is paid in salaries, Illinois is much stingier. Unless Illinois gets more generous, it will probably never catch up with Georgia, let alone California and New York.

See more from Crain’s Chicago.


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