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Illinois sees record year for film, TV during 2013

CHICAGO – The film industry generated more than $350 million in spending in Illinois last year, a big spike over the year before, state officials announced Tuesday.

Gov. Pat Quinn announced the news on the set of “Chicago Fire,” an NBC show about Chicago firefighters. It’s one of six television series and films contributing to what state officials are billing as record spending by the film and television industry.

In 2012, the industry spent $184 million in Illinois; this year it was $358 million.

“These record-breaking numbers show there is no better place to film than Illinois,” Quinn said in a statement.

The governor’s office said “Chicago Fire” spent $58 million in 2013. TV series “Chicago PD” began filming in September last year and spent $29 million. The other big spenders in Illinois were the movies “Divergent” and “Transformers 4.”

State officials said about $203 million of total spending went directly to Illinois wages.

Illinois has tried to lure television and movie projects away from popular filming destinations such as California and New York with big tax breaks.

Quinn signed a 10-year extension of the Illinois Film Tax Credit in 2011, giving a 30 percent tax credit to filmmakers for money spent on Illinois goods and services. That includes wages paid to Illinois residents.

However, such incentives have been under scrutiny. Policy experts have questioned if taxpayers are coming out ahead in such deals. Recently, the question of offering tax incentives for businesses to come to Illinois or stay in the state have been the subject of lawmakers’ hearings.

Hollywood has had a bigger presence in Illinois recently.

A soundstage was constructed near Chicago’s West Side in 2011. It’s the largest in the country outside of Hollywood, according to state officials. The Cinespace complex is a 1.2 million square-foot soundstage and includes 18 stages.

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