Music Box Theatre
3733 N. Southport Avenue,
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Located in the bustling Southport area of Chicago’s Lakeview district. When it was opened on August 22, 1929 with Morton Downey in “Mothers Boy”, the Music Box Theatre was considered small compared to the much larger movie palaces that were being built in Chicago around that time. Many of these larger theatres, like the Uptown Theatre, were often too large to stay in business throughout the rest of the 20th century.
The Music Box Theatre was designed in an Atmospheric style which was themed with a Spanish Renaissance style, the work of architects Louis I. Simon & Edward Steinborn. It was designed and opened as a ‘talkie’ theatre, but had provision for organ chambers to hold the pipes, which were not put to use until 1984 when a custom made 3 manual electronic organ was installed with its speakers housed in the organ chambers.
The Music Box Theatre later played mainly second and third-run movies as well as closing and reopening several times. The theatre had become more than a bit rough around the edges when it was closed on July 16, 1978 with William Holden “Omen II: Damien”. It then went over to screening Spanish Language movies, porn movies and Arabic movies.
Renovated in 1982, the Music Box Theatre reopened in 1983 and has been showing an eclectic mix of classic, foreign, and art house films ever since. In 1991, a small theatre was built in an existing storefront adjacent to the lobby. This second screen was designed to echo the architecture of the main auditorium, as an Atmospheric style, but because of the 13-foot ceiling height, the feel is that of sitting under a garden trellis with stars in the night sky beyond.
The Music Box Theatres hosts several Film Festivals each year: Chicago Critics Film Festival, Chicago Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, 70mm Film Festival and the Chicago International Film Festival.
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