Chicago theater
Increasingly, Chicago is known for a different kind of theater.

Hollywood may be known as the movie capital of the world, but thanks to Chicago’s unique character (and some Illinois tax credits), our city is playing an increasing role in major film productions.

Recently, The Windy City stood in for the fictional Gotham City in Christopher Nolan’s new Batman film series. While I was not able to catch the latest installment, The Dark Knight, in theaters, it was hard to miss the crew as they were filming around town in the summer of 2007.  According to the Chicago Tribune, The Dark Knight crew shot for a total of 65 days in 35 different Chicago area locations.

Just last summer, Chicago was the backdrop for a very different film when Lincoln Avenue outside the Biograph Theater was transformed into a 1930s street scene. Traffic was backed up for days as black antique cars displaced the SUVs and yellow cabs that normally travel on this busy thoroughfare. Hollywood was in town filming Public Enemies, a movie about notorious gangster, John Dillinger. After being named “Public Enemy No. 1” by the FBI, John Dillinger (played by Johnny Depp in the film) was shot and killed as he left that Lincoln Park theater.

Hollywood’s portrayal of Chicago as a ruthless city run by organized crime dates back to the 1927 crime saga entitled Underworld. A couple of years ago, I sold a home in Chicago’s Ukrainian Village neighborhood that had been used in the filming of The Untouchables, another movie about Chicago’s most notorious gangster, Al Capone.

However, there are many great films shot in Chicago that are not about gangsters, supernatural or otherwise. The list of classics includes: North by Northwest (1959), Raisin in the Sun (1961), The Blues Brothers (1979), Risky Business (1982), Sixteen Candles (1983), Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1985), The Color of Money (1986), Home Alone (1990), Backdraft (1990), Groundhog Day (1992), The Negotiator (1997), and Never Been Kissed (1998).

If your dream is to see a Hollywood film shoot in Chicago (or perhaps to be an extra), keep an eye on the City of Chicago Film Office website. They post upcoming and current filming as well as casting calls.

Photo by kevindooley.

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