Chicago has served as the backdrop for blockbuster films like The Blues Brothers, The Dark Knight and The Break-Up. But just when did the “Hollywood of the Midwest” first become a go-to location for film and TV producers?
The answer goes all the way back to the silent film era of the early 1900s when the Essanay Film Manufacturing Co. produced thousands of films from 1907 to 1917 and William Foster debuted The Railroad Porter in 1913.
Productions shot on location in Chicago ebbed and flowed in the years that followed as Hollywood became a film and television hub. But as of September 2021, a record 15 TV shows were filming in the city — including popular series like Chicago Med, Chicago PD and the fourth season of FX’s Fargo. The Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, where many of these film and television shows are made, has plans to expand. And Derek Dudley, producer of the Showtime series The Chi, and Jim Reynolds of Loop Capital are creating a new film studio in the South Shore neighborhood known as Regal Mile Studios.
With so many things being filmed here every week, Curious City gets a lot of questions about what makes certain Chicago area locations so popular and how these locations get transformed for the movies that are filmed here.
We dug up the answers and put together a quiz based on what we uncovered. How much do you know about Chicago area locations? Test your knowledge!
Thanks to Erin Anderson, Mark Hocker, Amanda Civitello and Carolyn Nettles for their questions about Chicago’s film locations.
Matthew Sigur is a Chicago-based journalist. His work has been published at The Ringer, Entertainment Weekly and Chicago Reader, among others. Follow him @MatthewSigur.
This quiz was produced using Flourish by Sophia Lo. Follow her @sophiamaylo.