ROGERS PARK — The New 400 Theaters in Rogers Park is screening the new movie “Queen & Slim” after a social media campaign from neighbors convinced the film’s studio to send the movie to the independent neighborhood theater.
Written by Chicago native Lena Waithe, “Queen & Slim” is described as a modern-day “Bonnie And Clyde” that deals with social issues like racism and excessive police practices. The film began showing last week in theaters across Chicago, including an advanced screening at Columbia College, Waithe’s alma mater.
The New 400 Theaters, however, was not sent a print.
The small, independent theater at 6746 N. Sheridan Rd. was left out of the movie’s distribution because the film had a relatively limited release, and so film studios concentrate on screening in large theaters where they can sell more tickets, said Hilary Strohschein, general manager at New 400 Theaters.
“It’s expensive to print movies with a smaller budget, and they don’t make as many prints,” she said. “They want to send it to theaters with 500 to 1,000 seats, not 130.”
But knowing the movie’s Chicago ties — and knowing her diverse Rogers Park clientele — Strohschein said she launched an online support campaign to convince Hollywood to send the theater a digital print.
“Rogers Park is the most diverse neighborhood in Chicago and we want to make sure everyone is represented,” Strohschein wrote on the New 400 Theaters Facebook page. “We need you to show the studios Rogers Park deserves the films Rogers Park wants to watch.”
The Facebook post took off quickly, with 60 comments and hundreds of “likes” in less than two hours, Strohschein said. On Friday, the post had 200 comments and 150 shares, with neighbors asking film executives to send the movie to Rogers Park.
“The New 400 Theaters is an immense gift and privilege to have in our incredibly diverse neighborhood and we are thirsty to see more representation on screen and at our humble little movie theater,” one comment read.
The campaign was successful in convincing the studio to send “Queen & Slim” to the theater, where it debuted Wednesday.
Strohschein said she decided to “just be honest” with the neighborhood in asking for help, and was not surprised to see neighbors rally to the cause.
“Some movies that don’t do well country-wide do really well here,” she said. “It was an amazingly positive response. The community has been so kind.”
“Queen & Slim,” starring Daniel Kaluuya and Jodie Turner-Smith, tells the story of a African American couple’s run from law enforcement after an encounter with a white police officer. The movie is screening at the New 400 Theaters at 4 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday. For more information on the screenings, click here.
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