Why the Film “Groundhog Day” Was Filmed In Illinois, Not In Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

In 1990, writer Danny Rubin came up with the idea of a movie about a man who gets trapped reliving the same day over and over. That movie would go on to become the blockbuster hit of 1993, Groundhog Day. When it came to location, he wanted to use a quintessential American town, a place that didn’t look as if it was specific to any particular time period. The Pennsylvania Film Commission provided location scouting tapes of Punxsutawney, but it became obvious that attempting to film there would present difficulties, as the town had few ideal filming locations for the scripted scenes. It was too isolated from the necessary amenities and didn’t offer sufficient accommodations for the entire cast and crew. A Chicago native, director Harold Ramis knew Illinois could meet their filming needs. After scouting 60 towns, they settled on Woodstock — a small town of 25,000 people — where parts of the film Planes, Trains and Automobile had been filmed. Though relatively remote, it offered the timeless quality the filmmakers sought. The town even came with a large pothole for Phil (Bill Murray) to step in. Several local businesses banned together to oppose the film’s presence — concerned about the effect it would have on both the town square and storefronts — but production proceeded. Filming began on March 16, 1992 and concluded 86 days later. The film was released on Feb. 4, 1993 and had an initial budget of $14.6 million. It wound up grossing $105 million.