Music Box Theatre will reopen in stages

The Lake View institution will begin with outdoor movie screenings for small groups before welcoming patrons to its indoor spaces July 3.

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Screenings at the Music Box Theatre’s back garden will begin Friday.


One of Chicago’s grand movie palaces, the Music Box Theatre, is easing back into the business of showing movies to people in person.

Starting Friday, the theater at 3733 N. Southport Ave. will open its back garden for outdoor screenings for small crowds of 20 to 30 people. Featured films will come out of the archives: the Prince musical “Purple Rain” this weekend, followed by the teen horror film “I Know What You Did Last Summer” July 3-5.

Closed since March, the main auditorium will open July 3 with the Music Box’s own 70mm print of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In adherence to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s rules during Phase 4 of the state’s reopening, no more than 50 patrons at a time will be permitted in the 750-seat space.

The smaller, 72-seat theater will show current arthouse titles and will be available for rentals by groups of 20 or less.

Like most indie theaters closed during the pandemic, the Music Box has been presenting virtual screenings of new films and pocketing a portion of the fees paid by at-home viewers.

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