News Column

Chicago Girds for Transformers 4 Film Shoot

July 16, 2013

YellowBrix

The Transformers filmmaking crew will return to Chicago next month, but the disruption may not be as significant or conspicuous as it was three summers ago, when Michigan Avenue was shut down and adorned with faux destruction.

A casting call for paid extras in the fourth installment of Transformers franchise is scheduled for this weekend at the Skokie Holiday Inn, and Paramount Pictures is asking the City Council for permission to do some filming on a vacant Southeast Side site.

"They want to do some takeoffs and landings at the former U.S. Steel" site, said Ald. John Pope, 10th, who in true Chicago tradition is asking for some consideration in return for his permission. That would take the form of some sort of "community benefits" or perhaps an opportunity for local kids to be allowed to get a close-up of the filmmaking, he said.

The filmmakers probably can afford to make some accommodations. The last flick grossed $1.12 billion worldwide, making it one of the most lucrative films of all time.

A spokeswoman for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events said the city's Film Office is not yet sure how much filming will take place here. Film Office Director Rich Moskal said last month he did not think it would be as great as in 2010. Extensive filming started last month in Michigan.

Chicago was featured for more than half an hour in the previous movie, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," which was released in 2011. Hasbro robots aiming to enslave humanity invaded Chicago, toppling parts of the architecturally acclaimed skyline as they fought Hasbro robots trying to help humans in the critically panned film. The next installment takes place four years after that attack.

Filming in Chicago is slated for Aug. 18 to Sept. 27. But folks who show up at film scenes won't get a glimpse of Shia LaBeouf. Instead, director Michael Bay has cast Mark Wahlberg in the lead role. The release date, according to Paramount Pictures, is June 27, 2014.

hdardick@tribune.com

Twitter @ReporterHal

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