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Music Box Blocks Other Theaters from Halloween 'Rocky Horror' Screenings

By Benjamin Woodard | October 31, 2012 10:29am

ROGERS PARK — A little Transylvanian drama is brewing between two Chicago movie theaters this Halloween, as Lakeview's Music Box Theatre bought exclusive rights to show the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" in the Chicago market Wednesday.

The move forced Rogers Park's New 400 Theater to cancel its showings and planned Halloween party, even though the Music Box sold all 700 available tickets for the Wednesday showing.

Tony Fox, co-owner of the New 400, isn't happy.

"The distributor (20th Century Fox) in concert with the Music Box denied us the opportunity to exhibit [the show] because the Music Box is a better customer of theirs," he said Monday. "It's to protect their own business."

Fox said he was shocked when he heard from his booking agency that he wouldn't be able to play the cult-classic film. The four-screen New 400 and two-screen Music Box are part of only a handful of locally owned, independent movie theaters in the city.

Fox said it wasn't an "independent" sort of thing to do on behalf of the Music Box.

"It's very big brother like, very big chain like," he said. "We won't be having a party either."

The Music Box declined to comment on the situation, but did confirm with DNAinfo Chicago that the theater has exclusive rights to show the film Wednesday.

Officials at 20th Century Fox were not immediately available for comment.

The film, a 1975 adaption of a live show British rock musical, plays in movie theaters across the country year-round and is especially popular on and around Halloween. Since its opening, the film has grossed $140 million at the box office in the United States, according to industry data.

The movie features a couple stuck with a flat tire on a rainy night, who then find themselves seeking refuge at a castle where the "Annual Transylvanian Convention" is taking place.

Audience members during showings are encouraged to participate in a series of scripted reactions and outbursts throughout the film, including throwing toasted bread when the line "A Toast!" is said, and tossing Scott-brand toilet paper rolls toward the screen at the line "Great Scott!"

Fox said he would try to play the film the Friday after Halloween instead. On Wednesday, he said, the theater, located at 6746 North Sheridan Road, would play its regularly scheduled films.

"Wednesday will not be big for us," Fox said.

The only Wednesday screening of the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" in Chicago will be at 10 p.m. at the Music Box, located at 3733 N. Southport Ave. Tickets are sold out.