'Candyman' Filming Locations: Is Cabrini-Green A Real Place?

The new Candyman movie follows the life of an artist, Anthony McCoy (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) as he investigates the urban legend which has rocked the housing project where his new apartment is built.

The legend of Candyman has haunted the place for decades, with one story being told in the 1992 movie of the same name. This story, of researcher Helen Lyle (Virginia Madsen), is told in the new movie by Troy (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett) as an urban legend in itself, all taking place in Cabrini-Green.

The area is almost a character of its own, though the powers that be in 2021 are continuing to gentrify the area, meaning the place is pretty much derelict when Anthony goes looking for Candyman.

Sadly, it is in those haunted by the legend that he is found, as they are told to say his name to remember the way in which he has been pushed out of the modern zeitgeist.

We break down where Candyman was shot, and whether the Chicago project really does exist.

Is Cabrini-Green a Real Place?

Candyman production still
Cabrini-Green and "Candyman"

Cabrini-Green was a real housing project in Chicago, and one which has since been taken down.

In the now-gentrified Near North Side of Chicago, the Cabrini-Green housing projects stood tall, but have since been closed and many have been demolished.

The area is notorious, for both crime and the violence within it, but also after those living in the project sued the Chicago Housing Authority in the 1960s for making housing policy decisions on based on race. The authority was found liable in 1969.

Between 1995 and 2011, most of the buildings were destroyed, however the original Cabrini-Green row houses are still standing, and were used to film the movie in 2019.

Colman Domingo, who plays William Burke in the movie, said he began researching the area when he took on the role, and said in press notes: "In Chicago, you look at the Cabrini location and where it is in relation to downtown and the Gold Coast. You see exactly the lure to tear it down and create something new.

"You wonder 'where were all these people displaced?' You can't just build affordable housing and then displace all these people throughout the city. It rips a hole out of the city.

"No matter what things have been said about Cabrini-Green, the crime, the drugs, these are people who are part of the fabric of the city. Then, suddenly, that's ripped out. It's a systemic problem in America."

Chicago was the filming location for most of the film, with the North Park village, Northside Strangers Home Baptist Church and an abandoned chapel on the Cabrini-Green grounds being used for filming.

The apartment complex in which Brianna (Teyonnah Paris) and Anthony live is Near North Side's Marina City, while the Museum of Contemporary Art was also used for the gallery scenes.

The story the 1992 film is based on, by Clive Barker, was originally set in a poor neighborhood in Liverpool, U.K., where the novelist is from.

However, in moving it to the U.S.A., a number of real life stories were taken into consideration, most notably of Ruthie Mae McCoy.

McCoy was a young woman murdered in 1987 in her home in the Chicago Housing Authority ABLA Homes.

It was reported she called police after believing someone was climbing through her wall through the mirror in her bathroom, but the authorities did not turn up until a while later, not breaking into her home until the following day, by which time she was already dead.

Her name, Ruthie, is used as the name of the murdered woman in the 1992 Candyman, who is called Ruthie Jean.

Ruthie's story is much the same as the real-life woman, and McCoy became the last name for the character Anne-Marie McCoy (Vanessa Estelle Williams) and Anthony in the new movie.

Ultimately, the story of Candyman is one which attempts to show the lives of real people whose traumas must be acknowledged on their own terms, with Cabrini-Green at its heart.

Candyman is in movie theaters on August 27

Editor's Picks

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to Newsweek.com
  • Ad free Newsweek.com experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts