Film revenues up, state claims

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A robust $184 million was spent by TV and film projects in Illinois last year, a rebound from 2011’s dip to $154 million and beating out 2010’s record high of $161 million, according to numbers released Friday by Gov. Pat Quinn’s office.

More than in years past, TV work was responsible for half of 2012’s figure, thanks to the four episodic television series that shot in Chicago: “Chicago Fire” (NBC), “Boss” (Starz), “The Mob Doctor” (Fox) and “Underemployed” (MTV). Only “Chicago Fire” has remained on the air (and in the city) into 2013; signs look strong that NBC will not only renew it for a second season, but are reportedly planning a cop-themed spin-off that will also shoot in Chicago.

Work was lighter on the film side. No big studio pics came to town last year, but the Bollywood action movie “Dhoom 3” shot entirely in Chicago, as was the low-budget indie “Drinking Buddies,” from local director Joe Swanberg and starring Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston and “New Girl” co-star Jake Johnson. “Drinking Buddies” will be released later this year.

It is worth noting that even as Illinois’ numbers continue to climb, they are still dwarfed by those generated in states that offer more lucrative film incentives; Georgia, for example, reported almost $700 million spent by TV and film productions in 2011, according to the state’s website.

Illinois is already ahead of the game for 2013, with the screen adaptation of Veronica Roth’s dystopian novel “Divergent” (starring Shailene Woodley and Kate Winslet) which began shooting earlier this week. Later this summer the Wachowskis will shoot exteriors for “Jupiter Ascending” and Michael Bay will be back to film portions of “Transformers 4.” Chances also look good that there will be at least one more TV series shooting here next season.

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