Exclusive: Transformers 3 Shoot Shuts Down Chicago's Michigan Ave!

by Damian McKnight Exclusive: Transformers 3 Shoot Shuts Down Chicago's Michigan Ave!

Expect explosions, widespread destruction, crushed cars and mayhem in Chicago this summer as the city is transformed into a movie set for Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg's latest's sci-fi action adventure. Transformers 3, the working title for the third and final film in the live action Transformers series, has shut down a major portion of Chicago's famed Magnificent Mile and turned it into a virtual war zone.

Directed by Michael Bay, the mega-budget sequel to Transformers and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is scheduled for release on July 1, 2011 in Real D 3D theaters in the United States and in IMAX 3D. Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Ian Bryce, and Tom DeSanto are also producing. Chicago officials estimate that having "Transformers 3" shoot in Chicago will bring about $20 million into the local economy.

Michigan Ave is just the latest location for the blockbuster film franchise as the production previously shut down several major streets in the Loop. Robots in disguise have also been sighted north in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where shooting took place near Calatrava's dramatic Milwaukee Art Museum.

Known for special effects, ground breaking CG, and pyrotechnics, Transformers 3 is also known for its daredevil stunt scenes. For the Chicago shoot, major stunts, including infernos and skydivers, will take place on and around Michigan Ave. Crews are scheduled to shoot on the Michigan Avenue Bridge above the Chicago River, as well as performing aerial stunts near Trump Tower (near offices for Earlier in the week, skydivers were seen parachuting over Millennium Park in preparation for the shoot. The director of the Chicago Film Office says precautions have been taken at all the shoot locations around the city to prevent permanent damage.

Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, John Turturro and Ramón Rodríguez are set to reprise their starring roles, with Peter Cullen also returning as the voice of Optimus Prime. Sam's new love interest will be played by English model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Frances McDormand has been cast as the US government's National Intelligence Director, and John Malkovich has also been added to the cast. Autobots Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Ratchet, Ironhide and Sidewipe have been confirmed to return. On June 10, 2010, Bay revealed to USA Today that the main villain would be Shockwave.

The production of Transformers 3 in Chicago is expected to bring more than 200 jobs to the city. Since 1989, 900 films and TV productions have contributed more than 275,000 jobs and $1.6 billion to the local economy.

Mayor Richard Daley said he hopes the exposure the city will get through the movie will be a boon to the tourism industry.

"It's free publicity for us," he said last month.

Revenge of the Fallen was the No. 2 movie of 2009 (behind only Avatar), earning $836 million worldwide. Plot details are under wraps, but reportedly the film explores the space race between the U.S.S.R. and the USA, suggesting there was a hidden Transformers role in it. Bay has stated that this will be the last film in the series.

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