Fox Oakland’s $68 million dollar restoration nears completion

posted by philbertgray on November 21, 2007 at 7:55 am

OAKLAND, CA — What began as a minimal renovation to reopen the Fox Oakland that was permanently closed in 1984 has launched into a near full restoration effort that when completed, will cost close to $68 million.

At a sneak peek on Thursday night, in which more than 100 people were treated to an insider’s tour of the restoration, the Fox Theater revealed how its intriguing decor once captivated Oakland Calif. audiences. Developer Phil Tagami said the restoration project of the Fox Theater has already raised $63 million, but needs another $5 million for the finishing touches.

When first opened, the Fox Oakland boasted it was the largest theater on the west coast. Among its many decorative touches are two huge Hindu deity statues, one on either side of the proscenium, sitting cross legged, each holding a bowl in their lap. During the heyday of the Fox Theater, bursts of steam were shot up through bowls in the Hindu deities laps, giving the illusion of smoke rising from the bowls as the house lights dimmed and the curtain opened.

A full article on the restoration of the Fox Oakland can be found at in Inside Bay Area.

Photos of the building and the auditorium, including the huge Hindu deity statues, taken in 1985 and 2004 can be seen at the Friends of the Fox Web site.

The interior of the theater was used in the 1978 film “Nightmare in Blood” with Kerwin Mathews.

The exterior of the theater was used in the 1988 film “Tucker: The Man And His Dream” with Jeff Bridges.

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Comments (9)

KJB2012 on November 21, 2007 at 10:15 am

This is great news. Oakland can be VERY Proud that they saved the Fxo, whilst San Francisco destoryed their Fox long ago.
I think a special thanks goes to former mayor Jerry Brown.
I can’t wait to see the finished theatre.

William on November 21, 2007 at 12:44 pm

There is a few shots of the exterior and they used some office space in the film “Sneakers” (1992).

Marcel on November 21, 2007 at 3:33 pm

Wonderful news- can’t wait to see it. I took photos of the Oakland back in ‘98. I visited the nearby Paramount for a screening of “Miracle On 34th Street.” If you live in the area, and haven’t experienced this theater-it’s another must.

GaryParks on November 21, 2007 at 10:33 pm

The exterior, viewed at night, can also be seen in “Sneakers.” The interior shown in the movie—supposedly in the office block portion—appears to have been a set, though I’m not positive.

Also, a number of years ago, an Oakland rapper (don’t recall his name) pictured himself on the cover of his album standing in front of the theatre, with the vertical sign (then still unrestored) prominently behind him.

When they were filming “Tucker” I was going to art school in Oakland, and hung out on Telegraph, watching them redo the street to look like 1940s Chicago. Vintage cars were everywhere—a real treat. I then made it a point to see the movie at the Grand Lake, knowing that it would be fun to watch the “Chicago” scenes with an Oakland crowd. I was not disappointed. There were frequent guffaws every time a character would make reference to Chicago while standing somewhere that was obviously Oakland. The audience seemed to enjoy the movie otherwise, though.

GaryParks on November 21, 2007 at 10:35 pm

William—and everybody. I see the mention of “Sneakers” was already made. Apologies for the repetition! :–)

philbertgray on November 22, 2007 at 12:54 am


The interior of the theatre used in Tucker is actually the interior of The Paramount theatre just two blocks away. It is a spectacular Art Deco restoration. For several years The Paramount had a fall movie festival on Friday nights when they showed a classic movie complete with cartoon and short subject, all for $5.00. Unfortunantly, due to low attendance they decided not to have one this year. I think the basic problem was they did little or no advertising for it. I only found out about it by walking by the theatre one day while I was in Oakland. It was great fun to see a classic in this beautiful theatre. Hope they reconsider next year.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on November 24, 2007 at 7:24 pm

Another problem of poor attendance is the “low life” who wander about in that part of downtown. This problem is similar on Broadway in L.A. My car was broken into twice in Oakland… not any more!

terrywade on November 25, 2007 at 7:45 pm

The sneak peak was great hard hats and all! I think downtown Oakland is on the change for the better. With all the new condos and food places going in around the Fox I think the security will be in top form when the New Fox Oakland opens next year. They won’t let bad publicity ruin the new remodel. Watch for big security around this great Fox. I was talking to many people at the Fox party about the use of color lights in the theatre,in the domes ect. They are going to try to keep the color lights in the same place. The ceiling lit blue during a movie. Lit Red and blue during intermission. The buddas on each side I think had small gold lights during film intermission and a dark purple during the movie. When I worked at the Fox Oakland in high school in the mid 60’s the side buddas had no lites. I did remember the ceiling with its great dark blue lites.

blondcuban on December 14, 2007 at 11:03 am

I would deeply appreciate any information whatsoever, photos, drawings, etc. about the original large neon beacon which once graced the highest point of Oakland’s Fox. There is an excellent telephoto shot of it in “Theaters of Oakland” by Tillmany/Dowling.

I am trying to convince Oakland’s City Council to restore this unique and significant architectural feature, once visible from Oakland / Berkeley Hills. If you have any info whatsoever, including stories, or if you have personal memories of the beacon illuminated or not, please write or contact me.

Bruce King, , 510-464-6378

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