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Chicago Will Get Its Own Backlot Tour, Just Like Hollywood

By Emma G. Gallegos in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 17, 2015 6:05PM

Here's a set that will be built to look like New York City (Cinespace rendering via DNAInfo)

Chicago could be getting the first backlot tour outside of Hollywood, if the president of Cinespace has his way.

Cinespace set up shop in North Lawndale in 2011 and has since become the biggest soundstage outside Los Angeles. Shows like Chicago Fire and Empire regularly film there, and films like Transformers and Jupiter Ascending have also shot there. DNAinfo reports that Cinespace president Alex Pissios soon hopes to invite the public to the set as well.

Pissios plans to build up some new streetscapes at Cinespace that pass for London, New York and Chinatown. It's a two-fer: filmmakers can shoot there without having to deal with the stress of shooting on location and when filmmakers aren't there, the public will get to tour these elaborate movie sets. The backlot tour itself will also include a bus ride that will pass by iconic Chicago movie locations for The Blues Brothers or the many, many John Hughes films that were shot around town. There's a Lagunitas Brewing Company, which Pissios thinks will be a pleasant way to finish out the 4- to 5-hour tour.

Pissios has had this plan in the works for two years, DNAinfo reports, and he hopes to have all the necessary approvals from the city by November so he can begin work on the property. He says he has the support of both Ald. Michael Scott (24th) and Ald. Jason Ervin (28th).

Earlier this year Cinespace was forced to return a $10 million grant from the state to purchase adjacent industrial properties.