San Francisco’s classic Clay Theatre closing

posted by CSWalczak on August 16, 2010 at 7:50 am

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Opened as a nickelodeon in 1910, the Clay Theatre is slated to close at the end of the month. Most recently operated by Landmark Theatres, it was one of the few remaining classic movie theaters operating in San Francisco.

Reaction around the neighborhood was uniform. Sandy Mullin, a longtime employee of nearby Browser Books, expressed her disappointment at the announcement. “It’s a blow to the neighborhood. It is a wonderful theater. It has a wonderful staff. I loved it when they showed European films, and art house films. I’m sad,” said Mullin.

The Clay, which first opened as a nickelodeon (admission to the movies was then only 5 cents), has played host to many memorable screenings, special events, and film festivals over the years. On closing weekend, the Clay will host another screening of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, with the cast of the participatory film event putting on a funeral for the theatre.

There is more about the closing in the Examiner.

Theaters in this post

Comments (7)

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on August 16, 2010 at 2:29 pm

So sad… a favorite flick house of mine when not attending the fabulous Castro, super little Roxie, the almost original Clay and a few other classic, classy cinemas!

Can anyone bring us up to date with regard a fire some many moons ago? and I wonder what will happen to the historic equipment plus assorted artifacts? And is a Wallgreen’s drug store moving in before the projector lamp is cold?

davepring on August 17, 2010 at 2:03 am

Exactly why are Landmark closing this gem of a the lease up or has a lucrative offer been made for the site??

terrywade on August 17, 2010 at 8:49 am

Shops and a condo on top I guess for the Clay Theatre spot. A pricy area of SF. Will the Bridge Theatre San Francisco be next to go? Landmark needs to take over the closed Galaxy Theatre on Van Ness in SF and do a remodel and close the It’s other two small theatres in the same area. Landmark Theatres in Berkley CA show regular movies not just art films. They can do the same in SF now that the Clay Theatre will soon be gone. Maybe some one else will take over the lease of the Clay. I think the owners of the Clay property want top dollar for the lot for something else then a Cinema.

CSWalczak on August 17, 2010 at 10:52 am

I seriously doubt that Landmark or any other operator would have any interest in the Galaxy, unfortunately; it is reportedly in a deteriorated state, and the newer AMC theater down the street would represent serious competition. Landmark seems to be retrenching; over the last year it has left both the Columbus, OH and New Orleans markets, and will soon leave Austin, TX.

Scott Neff
Scott Neff on August 17, 2010 at 1:16 pm

Maybe Rialto Cinemas can take it? :o) Or the folks that run the Vogue.

alfonsofelder on August 20, 2010 at 4:00 pm

There is a lot of speculation about what will happen next at the Clay, but the one thing known for certain is that the San Francisco Film Society (SFFS) wants to buy or lease the Clay. Given the strong protections San Francisco now has in place for historic theatres, there is little risk that the Clay will be anything but a theatre as long as there is a viable option for the Clay to continue to operate as a theatre (this hasn’t been the case for other S.F. theatres lost in the last decade). Fortunately, SFFS has both the will and the wherewithal to not only preserve the Clay, but to elevate it into one of the country’s premiere specialty film venues. SFFS had been negotiating with the Clay’s owner and hopefully discussions will resume soon.

CSWalczak on August 22, 2010 at 9:11 pm

This article casts doubt that the theater’s owner is taking the SFFS’s attempts to presrve the Clay as a functioning movie theater seriously: View link

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