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This is currently the last operating adult film theater in the San Francisco Bay Area. (It shows video now.) Has been an adult theater since April, 1972.
This was part of the Showcase Theaters chain & was their flagship theater in the East Bay. Other Showcase theaters in the East Bay were the Southshore Twin in Alameda and the Showcase Twin in Fremont. El Cerrito had a twin theater operated by Showcase that closed in the early 1970’s. The Showcase Cinema in Concord was not run by the Showcase Theaters chain.
It was named the Cinema 70 because they showed first run engagements in 70mm format in the 1960’s.
This was a Market Street theater next to the Esquire, located near the intersection of Powell & Market. It was primarily a theater that showed newsreels, in late 1960’s became an adult theater as Market Street declined. Closed around 1971(shortly before the Esquire did) and was torn down to make way for the Powell Street Bart Station & surrounding plaza.
From the 1970’s until its closure as a movie house in the early 1990’s, it was a downtown second-run triple bill theater.
Saw “Re-Animator” when it premiered here in 1986. Great theater with balcony. It would be great if this was revived as a theater instead of sitting empty.
Update on the Naz 8 Cinemas mentioned above—Their operation has been moved to a smaller theater about 4 blocks away. The 8-screen theater where the Fox once sat is now closed & the operators of the Hub shopping center where it is located at plan to put retail in its place.
This theater was in the Hoehner Plaza shopping center. On September 1, 1975, UA showed its last features there: “The Apple Dumpling Gang” & “Swiss Family Robinson”(Disney films)—On, September 3rd, the theater was now operated by Jim & Artie Mitchell(the Mitchell Brothers) and opened as a porn theater, their first film exhibited there was “Sodom & Gomorrah”, an expensive($700,000) porn film that was also a financial flop. This also started a war between Charles Keating (who owned a Lincoln Savings & Loan across the street & was a fervent anti-porn crusader), the Mitchells, and the City of Santa Ana that lasted for over a decade. Obscenity charges were filed every time the program changed, undercover cops were going into the theater(& taping the films for evidence), and the Mitchells kept getting hauled into court. (Two of the obscenity charges even went to the CA Supreme Court) The Mitchells eventually won the cases and the resulting attempts at shutting down the theater as a public nuisance cost the city of Santa Ana over $11 million> At one point, this theater (as a porn house)grossed over $1 million annually. In 1990, the owner of the shopping center would not renew the Mitchell Bros' lease, and so the theater was shut down. How ironic.
Ironically, the last movie house in Hayward, the Festival Cinemas 9(originally a 4 screen that opened in 1971) will be closing at the end of this month, as the city of Hayward pulled that theater’s lease. Hayward is looking to build a multiplex on city-owned land in its downtown area as part of a downtown revitalization project. The proposed site is 3 blocks from where the Hayward theater stood.
Was the first theater in New York to play the film “Birth of A Nation”(Feb 1915, ran for 44 weeks straight there). Played sleazy European gore films in its later years(1970’s-1980’s)
The Center reopens as a community center on No 23rd with a screening of “Casablanca”. The event runs from 5-8 PM and admission is free!
Kiddie-matinee house in the 1950’s, porn house in the 1970’s. My, how the times did change.
The demolition started today. Another classic bites the dust.
Blumenfeld operated this downtown Sacramento theater in the 1970s. It sits ½ block from the convention center in downtown Sacramento.
Notes on this theater: In the late 1950’s, when it was showing first-run films, it was the first theater to be open 24 hours a day. Also, when it went adult in the mid 1960’s, it was “twinned” (balcony was the theater #2) and the theater was then called the “T&D Follies”. Started showing hardcore in the late 1960’s. In 1975, it did attempt to show straight films again for a brief period before returning to hard porn, which continued until its close. The theater’s declining condition, mirroring the rest of downtown Oakland at the time, took its toll.
This theater was in the downtown Oakland area near where the Federal Building sits now. Programming mostly consisted of “grindhouse” style product(PRC, Monogram, B-Western, some exploitation). Shuttered in the 1960’s.
Good news! The Save the Center group signed a 4 month lease that begins in Sept & plan to run it as a venue for community theater & film festivals. The first show will be “A Chorus Line” in Oct. Save the Center is trying to raise $2 Million to buy the theater & they are hoping to land a Redevelopment agency loan. One potential issue could be parking, there are only 30 spaces at the theater.
Thanks to the last post for the correcting of the “bankruptcy” situation. The fact, however, remains that the Metro & Alexandria theaters may close in the future if indeed they are sold. There was a recent letter written to the SF Chronicle about 1 week ago that mentioned about the way the Alexandria had been looking “run down” and the writer also complained about “rude staff” and the fact that the upstairs auditoriums are in “mono” and “why should one have to pay $9.50” for that. It would be a shame to see these theaters close down. We need to preserve our classic gems. If a theater is well run & maintained, then it would get good business.
Update: The church that was leasing the theater moved out at the end of June. Theater preservationists are again reviving a plan to purchase the theater(with hopefully Redevelopment Agency help) and turn it into a community center/dinner theater.
To follow up on my last post, Regal Cinemas(who bought UA theaters in bankruptcy) is looking to get rid of “unprofitable” theaters. The lease for the Metro and the theater/land for the Alexandria have been on the market for the last year & “contracts are going back & forth” according to the SF Chronicle. It is likely that both theaters may be turned into retail.
This theater may be headed for closure according to the 7/25/2002 SF Chronicle.
This theater did expand its space several years ago. There was a theater next door to the Market Street Cinema, called the Guild(which became a Pussycat theater in 1973) at 1069 Market Street. Did the Guild become part of MSC’s expansion?
According to a recent SF Chronicle article, it looks as if this theater may be turned into a Walgreens.
The California just reopened on June 28th. Current attractions: “MIB2” (downstairs & 1 upstairs), “Cinema Paradiso” (1 upstairs). Landmark still runs the place.
Walter Reade theaters ran this & the nearby Music Hall theater until they went bankrupt in 1978. The Mitchell Brothers bought out the lease (to pre-empt Walnut Properties dba Pussycat Theaters from becoming competition to their nearby O'Farrell theater) and the Larkin showed porn from 1978-1979. Then the Mitchells turned it into a short lived revival house, then it became a gay porn theater. Now it is the New Century.