Showing 301 - 325 of 388 comments
This was also one of the earliest theaters in San Francisco showing hard porn, starting in the late 1960’s and in some of their SF Chronicle ads, even advertised 35mm hardcore. (At the time they started, many of the other places showing hard porn at that time were theaters made out of converted storefronts and used 16mm projection.) In March 1976, it went to revival house programming.
Opened in the mid-1970’s initially as a single screen theater.
Syufy operated this drive-in and I believe it was either two or three screens from the early 1970’s until close.
In 1973-1975, it did show hard porn.
I know of two other theaters in the San Francisco Bay Area that operated under the Jerry Lewis Cinemas banner. One was the Princeton in South San Jose off Blossom Hill Road and the other was in Antioch(using the Jerry Lewis name). From what I understand, they mostly used rear-projection and were highly automated. Unfortunately, the chain lasted less than 3 years. (And it was during the early 1970’s, when family films and G-rated product did poor box-office business.)
A question: Was this part of the short lived Jerry Lewis Theaters chain?
Plitt ran this theater for years prior to Odeon buying out Plitt Theaters.
This theater was operated by AMC during its entire run and it was AMC’s first multiplex in the San Francisco Bay Area. It opened in 1972. Its decline came as AMC was pushing its newer San Francisco theaters, the AMC Van Ness 10 and the AMC Kabuki 8. AMC attempted to get extra life out of the theater as a dollar house, but that failed.
With regards to the X 1 & 2 and the Mayan theaters—Carlos Tobarina(who produced soft X and later hardcore films)operated them in the 1970’s. Exterior shots of the X 1 & 2 can be seen in the 1981 “documentary” about John Holmes called Exhausted. (This was filmed right before Holmes got involved in the Wonderland murders of 1981. Also, PT Anderson used this film as his inspiration for the 1997 film Boogie Nights.)
In the area, the first THX certified auditorium was at the GCC Fremont Hub 8, which opened in 1987 and had one auditorium THX certified. (That theater later closed, ironically due to the popularity of the 25 screen Century 25 in Union City. How interesting is that theater wound up putting 4 separate multiplexes totalling 28 screens out of business.)
As of today, the building still stands empty.
The Chabot is a great place & just got a new marquee recently.
The 12-plex mentioned above should be coming in 2005 at the corner of Foothill Blvd and B St in downtown Hayward, at the site of an old Lucky’s/Albertson’s supermarket that is now shuttered.
The new building on the theater site is a health clinic. It was built from scratch.
An update on the Center: The theater has been sold to a businessman who is planning to use the Center as an entertainment facility(concerts, films, etc.) catering to an ethnic clientele. According to the Argus newspaper, apparently there is some controversy because in the application before the city, he wanted to rename the theater Kabul Theater. (The theater’s location currently is in the middle of an area that some call Little Kabul for the concentration of restaurants and businesses catering to the Afgani residents of Fremont and surrounding areas—Fremont currently has the largest Afgani immigrant population in the US.) The Save the Center group would still like to hold events there, but this new owner wants to charge them too much to use the building. This is another hot issue.
I do recall in the 1970’s for several years before its close, it did run triple bills at the admission price of $1.50 per carload. It was an independent at that time.
One unfortunate problem (re:the last comment) is that Century Theaters recently opened a 12-screener in downtown San Mateo. I don’t know if art house fare would work(the nearest venues now are in Menlo Park and Burlingame). Still, I wonder if as the fact that it was one of the first conversions of a movie house from mainstream into hard porn films(done in April 1972) that it should get historical status on that alone. Persaonally, it is sad to see many of these beautiful theaters(I’m talking about the days of old, not in its current state) go by the wayside.
The cable car turnaround is actually 2 blocks east of the Golden Gate theater at the intersection of Powell & Market. At the turnaround, the following theaters were once located there: Powell(now a perfume store), Esquire(demolished), Pix(demolished), St Francis(soon to be demolished as part of a new shopping center on the site of the old Emporium store). The Owl Marque was near that theater however.
There are other theaters that are/were near the Golden Gate west of there(most on Market Street itself): Warfield(now a concert hall), Orpheum(live plays, once operated as a Cinerama theater), Crest(underwent several name changes over the years, now the Crazy Horse strip club), Regal(now the Deja Vu strip club), Guild(now retail, last theater incarnation was as Pussycat), Centre(now retail), Embassy(demolished after 1989 quake), the Strand(closed in April 2003, a long time revival house that went downhill into a porn theater & shuttered by the City as a public nuisance) and the United
Artists(aka Market Street Cinema, now a live sex show emporium). Market Street was once a thriving movie theater street.
Gary’s last post was excellent. I would like to elaborate more with the Hong Kong film situation. I was planning to open (with a business partner) a theater dedicated to showing Hong Kong films several years ago in the San Jose, CA area. The biggest problem I found out was the very short window between theatrical and video in Hong Kong. Many Hong Kong films wind up (legally) on video within about a month of their theatrical opening. This does not allow a theater owner to make much of a profit, since a theater makes more profit on longer runs of films versus showing a film for 1-2 weeks. And once a film hits video, it kills any theatrical business that that film might bring your theater. I feel that this has hurt the Four Star(which currently is the only San Francisco area theater that does show Hong Kong films—At one point the Towne in San Jose showed Hong Kong films on Monday and Tuesday nights and the UC Theater in Berkeley showed Hong Kong films on Thursdays. By the time the would play the Towne or UC, they were out on video and that killed their HK nights.)
I find that last comment interesting, considering that Camera’s original intensions was to move into the Pavilion, but that deal had fallen through at that time(2002). Camera was then focusing on expanding the Camera 3 space into the Kinko’s next door to it(and adding two additional screens). The Camera One was to shut down in either event.
Camera has done a very good job with turning a long shuttered UA theater (the Pruneyard 3 in Campbell) into the Camera 7. I would love to see this suceed.
This theater was the first in the San Francisco area to show The Rocky Horror Picture Show at midnight screenings in late 1975. When the Powell closed (I believe in 1976), the midnight screenings moved to the Strand on Market St, where it played for years. (Rocky Horror first showed theatrically at the Metro theater in 1975 prior to its reincarnation as a popular midnight show.)
The Powell closed as a theater in the mid 1970’s. In the 1970’s, it did show second run films, then porn for about a year(hetero at first with The Devil in Miss Jones, then gay porn), before ending as a short-lived revival house. (I had actually seen the Danny Kaye film Hans Christian Andersen there in 1975.) It then became a McDonald’s for many years before becoming a perfume store, which is its current use. The building itself is not demolished.
I believe Blumenfeld did operate this theater in the 1970’s.
Allen Michaan, who operates Renaissance Rialto theaters, operates both this theater and the auction operation. The theater operates on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
With regards to the last statement, I do believe that the Tomkat on Santa Monica Blvd is the last Pussycat theater open in the Los Angeles. (They do show gay porn now however.) The Sunset closed in Oct 2003, which was the second Pussycat theater in the chain as it operated as one starting in 1966. In Sacramento, there is one theater that Pussycat ran (from 1975 until the late 1980’s) that is still showing adult films and that is the Regency on Watt Blvd. (Prior to it becoming a Pussycat, it was the Coronet theater.)
Today, the Clay, Bridge, and Lumiere are all run by Landmark theaters and are still showing art films. The Castro is one of the leading revival houses in the US. It’s too bad the Surf couldn’t remain open as it was popular in its day.