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Cinespace plans big expansion, adds new productions to studio roster

Cinespace Chicago Film Studios is the home of Showtime’s “The Chi,” Comedy Central’s “South Side,” and NBC’s “One Chicago” franchise.

2621 W. 15th Pl., Thursday afternoon, Feb. 28, 2019.
Cinespace Chicago Film Studio will add 19 soundstages to its location in the 1500 block of South Rockwell Street.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Cinespace Chicago Film Studios, the home to several locally filmed hit TV series and movies, says it’s aiming to expand its imprint.

The announcement, made by Cinespace this week, says it plans to add 19 soundstages in their two Little Village locations at 2621 W. 15th Pl. and in the 3100 block of South Kedzie Avenue, and the space acquired in the 1900 block of South Rockwell Street will be used for mill work and storage.

Cinespace is home to TV series and films including NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.,” and “Chicago Med,” Showtime’s “The Chi” and Comedy Central’s “South Side.”

“Chicago Fire,” NBC’s hit TV series, is filmed at Cinespace Chicago Film Studios.
Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC

The expansion, first reported by Crain’s Chicago Business, was prompted by the popularity of the studio site. Cinespace president Alexander S. Pissios told Crain’s he’s had to turn away projects, and aims to make the film studio one of the largest in the country east of Hollywood.

“Typically, productions need anywhere from four to six stages for each show, and each production brings about 300 new jobs with it. This means we could potentially add between 1,200–1,800 new jobs at our studios because of this expansion,” Pissios said in a written statement. “If we have more productions, we can have more interns from the area learning the business and working on shows.”

Pissios — who the Sun-Times has reported was threatened by federal authorities with prison for bankruptcy fraud when he began cooperating with federal authorities to make an extortion case against a former top Chicago Teamsters union boss — said Cinespace also plans to add “backlot” tours along with its main campus tourist center.

This month, Cinespace added Starz’s “Power Book IV: Force,” Amazon Prime’s “Paper Girls” and “Lightyears,” the latter featuring Sissy Spacek and Ed O’Neill (“Married With Children” and “Modern Family”), along with AMC’s “61st Street,” a series for which actor Michael B. Jordan (“Black Panther,” “Creed,” and “The Wire”) is an executive producer.

“During this pandemic, I think we all had a chance to experience how essential quality shows are to our culture and even to our mental health,” Pissios said. “Having Chicago as a critical link to providing not only quality entertainment, but also good-paying jobs in our community makes all the extra effort to help production companies keep filming worth it.”

In recent years, Cinespace was home to FX’s “Fargo,” Fox’s “The Big Leap,” HBO’s “Lovecraft Country” and the 2018 film “Widows.”