On your April 30 interview with Music Box Theatre programmer Brian Andreotti [Culture Club]: Landmark Theatre’s upcoming art-house multiplex in the Century mall puts the Music Box’s future at no more risk than Loews Cineplex does already by showing art films at the Fine Arts and Pipers Alley (read: not at all). On the contrary, the additional competitor in the specialty film exhibition industry in this town should be actively welcomed by anyone who enjoys quality cinema.
Chicago is underscreened where specialty films are concerned. More screens would encourage longer runs for more films; the one-week runs many art films get now simply are not enough to generate much buzz at the box office, creating a vicious circle that keeps down the number of such films that get shown in the first place.
Competition can only benefit the filmgoer. If the Music Box is forced to compete more vigorously on such dimensions as ticket price, amenities, length of run, etc, it will be a win-win situation for all. Andreotti should not underestimate his theater; after all, 15 years ago the Music Box’s more attractive ambience managed to trump the more central location (or so it seemed at the time) of Landmark’s Parkway, driving the latter out of the revival-house market–a policy the Music Box then was able to make a go of for several more years. There is no inherent reason why the Music Box, Landmark, Loews Cineplex, Sundance (which reportedly plans to open its own art houses here in the future), and others cannot hold their own together in a viable specialty film market in the long run.