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Photograph: Courtesy Music Box Theatre

Music Box Theatre is making it easier to rent movies at home

You can now watch newly released arthouse films through the Music Box app.

Zach Long
Written by
Zach Long

The Music Box Theatre has been closed to the public for several months now, but it's the Music Box At Home streaming program has made it possible for movie-lovers to continue enjoying new releases from their couch, while supporting the beloved independent cinema. This week, watching a new arthouse movie, foreign film or documentary will get a little easier, as the Music Box integrates virtual cinema rentals into its existing Music Box Direct service.

Available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV and Apple TV devices, the Music Box Direct app makes it easier to watch virtual cinema rentals on your TV, though it's still possible to view them on your laptop, tablet or phone. Rentals will still be $12 (or $8 if you're a Music Box member), and proceeds help support the theater while it's unable to host in-person screenings.

The switch to Music Box Direct officially begins on Friday, January 29, when five foreign-language films that were submitted as contenders for the 2021 Academy Award for Best International Feature Film will become available to rent. This includes Latvian WWI drama Blizzard of Souls, the Hungarian romantic mystery Preparations to Be Together for an Unknown Period of Time and the Japanese adoption drama True Mothers.

In addition to hosting new virtual cinema releases, Music Box Direct also provides a subscription service that's a bit like Netflix for more obscure contemporary films. For $5 a month (or $50 a year), members get access to a library of international films and television series curated by the Music Box that's updated every month. Currently, you can see Mads Mikkelsen in the medieval epic Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas or catch up on two seasons of the French television series Maison Close, set in a 19th century Parisian brothel.

While we're hopeful that theaters may be able to welcome back guests as restrictions are lifted (AMC is reopening several of its theaters in Chicago in the coming weeks), it's nice to have some new options for at-home viewing. If you've already exhausted the options on Netflix, Hulu and HBOMax, renting a movie via Music Box Direct is a simple way to see something new while helping a local business come out of the other side of the pandemic. 

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