Music Box 70mm Film Festival Preview

2001: A Space OdysseyPhotograph courtesy of Warner Bros

If you love movies and have lived in Chicago for the last few years, you’re likely familiar with the Music Box Theatre’s occasional 70mm Film Festival. If you recall, we previewed it when it was announced a little over a month ago. It basically happens anytime a new film is released in 70mm; the last time was about a year and a half ago, when Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight was released; and this year the festival precedes the July 21 release of Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. But before that the venue has a few choice titles—some that were shot in 70mm; others that were blown-up to fit the format—to share with the faithful.

To honor its commitment to film projection, the Music Box recently purchased a brand new 70mm DTS print of 2001: A Space Odyssey from Warner Brothers, produced at Fotokem, the last full service 65/70mm lab in the United States. The first week of the festival—June 30-July 6—will be devoted almost entirely to screening this landmark Stanley Kubrick work, with the exception of noon on Saturday, July 1 and Sunday, July 2, when Steven Spielberg’s family-friendly Hook will show as a 70mm blowup.

From July 7-13, the festival continues with a variety of rarely screened titles, including Disney’s 1959 animated classic Sleeping Beauty; Tony Scott’s blockbuster Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise; Carol Reed’s epic and stunning The Agony and the Ecstasy, starring Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison; Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 sword-and-sandal epic Spartacus;, starring Kirk Douglas and Laurence Olivier; Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar; Robert Altman’s Short Cuts; Richard Brooks’ Lord Jim, starring Peter O’Toole and James Mason; and the glorious musical West Side Story.

The newest film to play the festival is director Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ blockbuster from earlier this year, Kong: Skull Island, starring Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Brie Larson, and John C. Reilly. The film plays a few times during the festival, but a recently added special screening on July 15 will include a post-screening audience Q&A with Vogt-Roberts, moderated by yours truly.

The full schedule and advance tickets for the Music Box 70mm Film Festival can be found here. Spectacle has rarely been this spectacular.

Steve Prokopy
Steve Prokopy

Steve Prokopy is chief film critic for the Chicago-based arts outlet
Third Coast Review. For nearly 20 years, he was the Chicago editor for
Ain’t It Cool News, where he contributed film reviews and
filmmaker/actor interviews under the name “Capone.” Currently, he’s a
frequent contributor at /Film ( and Backstory Magazine.
He is also the public relations director for Chicago's independently
owned Music Box Theatre, and holds the position of Vice President for
the Chicago Film Critics Association. In addition, he is a programmer
for the Chicago Critics Film Festival, which has been one of the
city's most anticipated festivals since 2013.