Music Box Enters the Movie Business

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 12, 2007 2:11PM

2007_7mbox.jpg No, that headline is not redundant. One of our favorite movie theaters, the Music Box opened in 1929. By the 70’s however it had added porn to its schedule in order to stay afloat. It actually closed in 1977 but was reopened in 1983 after renovations. It’s been showing the best in foreign, revival and indie film ever since. Love that organ. In 2003 the theater was sold to the building’s owner, William Schopf. He’s managed not only to keep it going but actually make it more successful than ever. And now, through a new division called Music Box Films, he intends to acquire films for distribution.

It makes sense. Obviously he’s already got a place to show them, and as a small, indie owner he needn’t worry about those anti-trust laws. The Music Box’s programming team consistently demonstrates superb taste, snagging screening/events by the likes of Crispin Glover, David Lynch and Guy Maddin (and let’s not forget the regular sing-alongs and midnight movies). So we trust them to pick up some good stuff.

According to the REEL CHICAGO article, first up is the Mongolian drama Tuya’s Wedding, which took the Golden Bear at last year’s Berlin Film Festival. A deceptively simple film shot largely with non-actors, it looks intriguing but perhaps a challenge to market. On the other hand the second film will be O.S.S. 117, a French James Bond spoof. Schopf has a “gentleman’s agreement” to handle North American distribution of the comedy, which won an audience award at the Seattle Film Festival In 2006. French comedy seems to have a pretty mixed track record as far as crossover goes (for every La Cage aux Folles there’s a Les Visiteurs), but who knows?

Incidentally, Schopf is a big supporter of the arts outside of the Music Box as well, including co-owning a local art gallery. He says that the Music Box has been doing so well he actually wants to expand the business and take on some new locations. Please, Mr. Schopf, if you’re reading this, consider helping out the 3 Penny!

photo via Steven Crane