In honor of last night's Academy Awards I thought I would give you a little Chicago film history:
Here is yet another reason Chicago's 1863 World's Columbia Exposition was awesome: it was the home to the world's first movie screening. Event goers could buy tickets to see moving photographs at Zoopraxographical Hall, put together by photographer Eadweard Muybridge.
When motion pictures began in the early 1900's, Chicago jumped right on the bandwagon. By 1907, Chicago had more theaters per capita than any other city in the country.
The famous Charlie Chaplin has a Chicago film studio to thank for 14 of his short comedies and one feature film, called "His New Job." Essanay Studios hired Chaplin in 1915 and paid $1,250 a week. Unfortunately, Chicago's unpredictable weather didn't please Chaplin, and he left after only a year. Essanay also kick-started Gloria Swanson's career.
Even though films weren't really shot in Chicago throughout the Great Depression, the city was known for its huge string of movie theaters. Balaban and Katz built more than 50 theaters throughout Chicago, including the Chicago Theater, the Oriental Theater and the Congress Theater. These theaters were so big they were actually called movie palaces, presenting elaborate stage shows and air conditioning.
Filming came back to Chicago in the 1980's when Illinois began throwing money at film production. Hit movies like "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," "The Blues Brothers," "The Color of Money," "The Untouchables," "Planes, Trains, and Automobiles" and "When Harry Met Sally" were all filmed in the Chicago area. We can also thank Chicago-born actors and directors like John Hughes, Dan Aykroyd, the Belushis and Andrew Davis.