Mayor Emanuel Announces Groundbreaking Chicago Film, Television and Media Production in 2018 with an Estimated $474 Million Economic Impact

February 28, 2019

Nine full-season television series were among the 520 film and media projects produced in Chicago last year, reaching a total estimated economic impact of $2.6 billion since 2011

Mary May, 312.744.0576

Christine Carrino, 312.744.0573

Chicago Film Production Photos


Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Film Office at the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced another record breaking year for film, television and media production in 2018. Last year, 520 film and media projects took place in Chicago, resulting in an estimated economic impact of more than $474 million in job creation and local expenditures according to data from the State of Illinois. Since 2011 the Chicago film industry has experienced significant growth, with a total economic impact of more than $2.6 billion, 90,000 jobs created and 3,700 projects produced.

“Chicago’s film and television industry is not just taking off, it is putting down roots,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The city’s local film industry shows no signs of slowing down as we continue creating thousands of new jobs, supporting industry investments across the city and welcoming hundreds of film and television productions to bring their projects to Chicago.”

Record breaking growth in Chicago film, television and media production since 2011 includes:

  • In 2018, 2,478 permits were issued to support the 520 individual film and media projects; up from 1,235 permits issued for 404 projects in 2011.
  • In 2018, more than 13,000 jobs were supported by the film industry; up from approximately 5,000 local jobs in 2011.
  • In 2018, more than $474 million estimated economic impact was created locally between job creation and production expenditures; up from $150 million in 2011.

The Illinois Film Office awards a 30 percent tax credit to film, television and advertising productions for qualified expenditures on local crew, goods and services. According to recent data, projects in 2018 employed 13,848 non-extra job hires and generated more than $282 million in wages. Women and minority hires made up 46 percent of reported crew employees.

Film, television and media production continued with record level activity in 2018 with 9 full-season series, plus portions of four others, filming throughout the year. NBC’s Chicago Fire, Chicago PD and Chicago Med, FOX’s Empire, Showtime’s The Chi and Shameless (Showtime) renewed for additional seasons. New series included Proven Innocent (FOX), Red Line (CBS) and South Side (Comedy Central). The pilot Lovecraft Country (produced by JJ Abrams and Jordan Peele) was HBO’s largest budgeted pilot to date, filming for 2 months in Chicago and throughout the state. Additionally, portions of the new series The Second City (USA) and Gotham (CW) were filmed locally.

"NBC and Universal Television are proud to have been part of the new wave of television production in the Windy City when "Chicago Fire" premiered seven years ago, and it's been thrilling to see our three Chicago series renewed just yesterday for next year,” said Brian O'Leary, Sr. Vice President, NBCUniversal. “We are grateful to the Governor, the Mayor and their teams for making Illinois and the city of Chicago such attractive and economically viable places to create great entertainment."

Film industry summary from 2011-2018:

  Projects Permits Issued Local Spending
2018 520 2478 $474 million
2017 580 2404 $430 million
2016 428 2339 $500 million
2015 543 1902 $330 million
2014 444 1638 $300 million
2013 487 2198 $358 million
2012 406 1848 $181 million
2011 404 1235 $150 million


2018 production compared with 2017 by genre:

Production Totals 2018 Projects 2018 Permits Issued 2017 Projects 2017 Permits Issued
Studio Feature 2 47 3 111
Indie Feature 80 183 30 198
Television 43 1281 56 1252
Commercials 122 318 165 306
Stills 170 280 199 277
Other Productions 103 369 127 260
Total: 520 2478 580 2404


Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, located in North Lawndale, is the largest film studio outside of California with 31 sound stages on its 1.45 million square foot main campus and additional studios under construction at 31st and Kedzie. Since opening in 2011, Cinespace has helped bring more than 16,000 new jobs to the area. Cinespace is a family-owned company specializing in the development, management and operation of studio space and support facilities for the film, television and digital media production industry. The feature Beats (Netflix) and several independent features were filmed here in their entirety and continued a six-year trend in the production of home grown content for national distribution.

“I am so proud that Chicago is taking a leading role in America’s film industry, and we really need to give much of this credit to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his vision for this great city,” said Alex Pissios, President of Cinespace Chicago Film Studios. “From the creation of more than 16,000 jobs at our studios, to introducing youth from the community to the film and television industry through our Internship program at CineCares Foundation, the opportunities for work in our thriving industry keeps growing,” he continued. “This year we can add DePaul’s School of Cinematography to our list of film credits. The school has recently been named as one of the top film schools in the country, and we are thrilled to have them right here on our campus.”

The Film Office’s Independent Film Initiative (IFI) – an industry development program designed to retain and grow the local filmmaker community and increase the number of locally produced independent features, documentaries, shorts and web series – added the Producer Apprentice Program to the portfolio. The apprenticeship is an opportunity to cultivate the next generation of independent filmmakers and media entrepreneurs through hands-on experience working on an independent production in Chicago. In a partnership with Cinema Chicago, four emerging filmmakers were selected to take part in a year-long series of workshops, professional development opportunities and were awarded a cash stipend for working on the productions of the web series The T and the CBS series Red Line.

The 2018 Millennium Park Film Series screened 14 movies June-September for a total audience of more than 100,000 attendees in the Pritzker Pavilion. Last year’s series was presented in collaboration with Chicago’s film festival community. Each film was selected in collaboration with a different festival to reflect its distinct mission and curatorial vison. In doing so, the series showcased the diversity and depth of the more than 50 film festivals that take place in Chicago each year. The series also continued its ChicagoMade Shorts Showcase of films by local filmmakers prior to each feature presentation.


Chicago Film Office

The Chicago Film Office, part of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, leads the City’s efforts to attract and enhance the production of feature films, television series, commercials, documentaries and all forms of local screen entertainment. For filmmakers, it is a one-stop liaison for all City of Chicago production needs, including permits, City services and logistical support.


Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors. For more information, visit

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