Sliding into @MusicBoxTheatre’s DMs | Film Issue | Chicago Reader

Sliding into @MusicBoxTheatre’s DMs 

An investigation into the best movie theater Twitter in town.

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ANNA GRACE NOLIN
  • Anna Grace Nolin

"I think the Music Box Theatre Twitter is flirting with me!" one of my cinephile friends told me a few years ago after an exchange of several responsive, charming tweets about movies. Alas, upon further investigation of the social media feed, we discovered the true love of whoever was running it was only movies, and they were eager to engage with any- and everyone who shared that passion. But still the question remained: who was the person behind the 90-year-old movie house's feed?

Since 2015, about a year before my friend fell in love, it's been Buck LePard, the Music Box's senior operations manager (who has a pretty solid Twitter feed himself). Recently I slid into the Music Box Theatre's DMs to chat with him about the power of social media and the movies. This conversation has been edited for clarity.

@BriannaWellen: Did you jump right in with the voice and style you use now or did it take a while to find what worked best for you and your followers?

@MusicBoxTheatre: I kept up what has really worked for us, while also adding my own style and ideas. And over time, the type of material on the feed has expanded, it started off as very cut-and-dried movie and event listings.

Can you think of a turning point when things like GIFs and more interactions with followers became part of the mix?

Film is a visual medium, so sharing GIFs, film clips, trailers, screenshots, closeups of 35 mm and 70 mm filmstrips, etc. became second nature as the best way to represent the Music Box. And I love talking about movies, so getting into conversations with folks is typically very fun. It's not always them coming to us. I've had a lot of interactions where I'll see a person post a GIF or something from a movie like Heathers, and I'll tell them, "Hey that's playing at the Music Box in two weeks," and they'll get excited and come to the movie.

Do you find that's helpful in getting the word out that the Music Box screens films that some people might not expect?

It's helpful for getting the word out, and it's also helped us decide what screenings might be worth doing in the future, since the things I'm posting might not always have to do with screenings that are currently on our schedule. For instance, last year I posted a random tweet about Drop Dead Gorgeous, and folks got pretty excited about the possibility of us playing it. Off of that, we scheduled it for midnight screenings and we had over 300 people show up each night. Having social media as an easy way to connect and alert our followers has increased what we're capable of, since it's such easy and immediate access.

Have you fulfilled a lot of wishes for screenings through Twitter?

Definitely. We'll have folks make suggestions or requests, and I keep track of them.

A couple years ago, before Baby Driver came out, we were doing an Edgar Wright retrospective of his previous films. It was going to include all his movies except for one, a comedy-western he made when he was 20 called A Fistful of Fingers. It had only played once in the U.S. and it's impossible to book. He's been to the Music Box before and follows us, and when he found out about the series, he reached out on Twitter about getting the film to us. He sent us the film, preshow clips, and a special intro, and that probably wouldn't have happened if we didn't have the Twitter relationship.

Are there any especially memorable or strange Twitter interactions that stand out in your mind? Especially when taking into consideration that the person on the other end is talking to a movie theater?

Haha, well I do take into account that our tweets are coming from a movie theater instead of a person, and I never want us to cross the line into "Crass Corporate Account."

I did end up very busy last election night, because I promised that if people sent us a picture of their "I Voted" wristband or sticker, I'd send them a picture of Kevin Kline (a personal favorite performer of mine).

It does seem like the Music Box Twitter often becomes a Kevin Kline fan account.

And I make no apologies for that.   v

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