For movie lovers, like myself, finding an old movie theater is a never-ending adventure. The Music Box Theater in Chicago is no exception here. Specializing in cult, independent, and classic films, Music Box Theater draws many different people, all with one love or interest: a unique movie-going experience.
Located in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, this 1929 theater has the ability to project almost any kind of film, making its range of movie possibilities endless. To their credit, the theater takes advantage of this. Just a glance at their film roster for upcoming and currently showing films exhibits the great diversity in their showing. Even more impressive is that this theater only actually has two screens: one large, main one and a smaller, side screen. However, almost any movie, if not every, is worth seeing. Just looking at the roster for this week, the theater has recent French and Turkish films and are also hosting a special screening of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, the director’s cut, for the movie’s 35th anniversary. Just this mix of three movies being shows with days, even hours, of each other shows how wide a span of movies this theater shows and, consequently, the wide span of people they are reaching out to.
While all of these films I have listed are interesting and worthwhile, the most notable Music Box Theater experience is their Christmas Show. This show, shown on multiple days starting around or just after Thanksgiving, consists of two classic Christmas movies that draw people to the theater in flocks, from near and far. The two classics they show every year for this show are It’s a Wonderful Life and White Christmas. These two movies alone, even watched in your private residences, bring the Christmas or holiday spirit during such a magical time of year. However, this experience is greatly expanded into an even more interactive and memorable one when they are watched at the Music Box Theater.
It’s a Wonderful Life is always shown first, being the main attraction of the entire show. But, before the Christmas movies can even begin, the Music Box Chorus performs a few songs, all to introduce the main introduction: Christmas songs sung along with Santa and a live organist. Santa comes onto the stage, jolly and fat, and leads the entire theater in classic Christmas songs. By the time the songs are sung, Santa goes up and down the aisles, tossing candy, while the ringing bells of the intro scenes of It’s a Wonderful Life are played. As things settle down, all eyes are on the wide, wide screen, awaiting the hero of the movie: George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart. As the movies goes along, each and every person remembers or feels what it is like to lose all hope, only to be reminded of the wonderfulness of humanity and friendship. There is no better way to start off the holiday season, even if you do not celebrate Christmas, because we are humans who can always be reminded of the importance of friendship.
As a cinephile myself, I would spend every single extra dollar I have on movies at the Music Box Theater. Not only are the experiences unique and memorable, but every dollar has been earned by the theater. Old movie theaters offer an experience one will never get at large, chain theaters. This is why we must donate our money and keep theaters like Music Box open. If you are able to, you can even become a member, helping support the theater by paying for the membership, but also receiving special benefits from your membership status.
Check out the Music Box Theater’s website here to see their upcoming and currently playing films and events. You can even show up early or stay after in their lounge adjacent to the theater.