Fox Oakland Theater

1807 Telegraph Avenue,
Oakland, CA 94612

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bruceanthony
bruceanthony on December 30, 2008 at 8:19 am

The restored Fox Oakland will not be leased by Bill Graham productions, that company no longer exists. The Fox will be leased by Another Planet which employs many of the people who worked at Bill Graham. I just hope the rockers are gentle with the theatre. brucec

spectrum
spectrum on December 26, 2008 at 10:53 am

Two photo galleries of the Fox Oakland, done by Nathaniel Bennett Photography Studio, from May and September 2008 retrospectively:

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philbertgray
philbertgray on December 20, 2008 at 1:20 pm

The restored Fox Oakland reopens 2/5/2009. It has been leased by Bill Graham productions for a year and will serve as a venue for live productions only. No plans for any use involved with films.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on October 2, 2008 at 12:34 pm

I think a proper film series should be part of the Fox or the Paramount after the theatre opens. There should be enough dark nights between the two theatres to achieve this goal. I think the theatres should focus on Berkeley to attract an audience for the film series. I think they should talk to either the Pacific Film Archive or the Packard Foundation in helping book a classic films series from all decades. I watched a Chaplin film at the Stanford theatre in July which was packed with people under 30 which attracts a large Audience of Students who attend Stanford. I think UC Berkeley students could due the same in the East Bay.brucec

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on September 15, 2008 at 10:34 pm

It looks like the Fox Grand Opening has been delayed from Oct 2008 to January 2009. I was in the theatre in July and I didn’t think they were far enough along to be open by October. I liked what I saw they are doing a first rate job restoring the theatre.brucec

GaryParks
GaryParks on July 24, 2008 at 11:10 am

The Theatre Historical Society 2008 Conclave Tour got to tour the Fox Oakland two weeks ago. There is still much work being done, but I must stress that the decorative painting work—indeed the whole restoration—is absolutely first-rate, and sticks to the orgiinal opulance of the 1920s Hindu/Islamic fantasy that is the interior of this showplace. The effect is breathtaking.

LuisV
LuisV on July 19, 2008 at 10:07 am

That sounds so cool! Why wouldn’t they NOT replicate it? The goal of any establihment/business is to make itself unique from anything else in the market. A steaming Buddha Bowl goes a long way!

philbertgray
philbertgray on July 19, 2008 at 9:31 am

The latest projected time for the opening of the restored Fox is either September or October 2008. The theater itself will serve as the flagship live music venue for Another Planet Entertainment http://www.anotherplanetent.com/ well known for bringing outstanding live entertainment to the Greek Theater, Paramount Theater, and other popular Bay Area venues. Their bookings are extremely diverse; from Stone Temple Pilots to An Evening with Bill Maher and Dollie Parton’s current Back Street Barbie tour.

To date there has been no indication of any film presentations to be incorporated into its operation. An earlier post on June 16th, 2008 from Terry Wade seems to indicate no projection equipment is being installed as a part of the restoration.

One aspect of the original theatre design will probably not be replicated. 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.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on June 20, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Downtown Oakland has never been a dangerous area. Broadway is much cleaner than Market Street. The area around the Fox is coming back in a big way with the Uptown project right next door to the Fox. I think the one two punch of both the Fox and the Paramount will help bring nightime activity back to downtown. Classic film should be brought back to one of the theatres.brucec

LuisV
LuisV on June 17, 2008 at 11:50 am

Thanks for the info CWalzak!

I’m glad to hear that the potential is there in downtown Oakland and, more importantly, that the homeless/drug addict scene is not much of an issue. Seriously, I still can’t believe the amount of derelict people I saw on Market Street and environs. What was even more apalling was the agressiveness of the panhandling.

I hate to say it, but when people panhandle on the subway in New York, they at least sing, play a musical instrument or do a little dance. One guy even has a stand up comedy routine. (He’s actually pretty funny). The situation on Market Street is decidedly NOT funny.

What turned Times Square around was a determination of both the publc and private sector to turn the area around. Laws were changed and the new laws rigorously enforced. The New 42nd Street Development Corporation was created to develop and put into motion a new master plan that would restore historic structures but also allow them to sustain themselves. Finally, the private sector came in. Companies like Disney committed to the incredible New Amsterdam theater which (arguably) is the most beautiful theater in New York, if not the country. AMC and Loews committed to building huge multiplex cinemas and companies like Madamme Tussauds joined in as well. Once the ball started rolling it couldn’t be stopped. The public voted with their feet and came back to 42nd Street in droves.

I can’t stress enough how dire the situation was on 42nd Street in the early 90’s. It was truly, the most dangerous block in America. Today, it is a family theme park with its own Hello Kitty store. (That’s a bit much for me!) but I love that we were able to get rid of the crime, filth, stench and derilects from the area. In return, the city has reaped probably billions in added property taxes as property values have sky rocketed and new office, retail and condominium towers have been built. Thousands of new prople have moved to the area.

I wish Oakland the best of luck and the next time I’m in San Francisco, I intend to get on the BART and visit!

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on June 17, 2008 at 10:43 am

No one could be happier about the news about the Fox Oakland than I; I used to walk by it when was rather derelict, then saw it’s gradual rebirth, first with the restoration of its marquee and vertical sign to now.

I do worry though about its successs, especially in the short term; the Paramount just a few blocks away has sure had its ups and downs over last few years and is frequently dark. It used to have a regular program of classic films, but I haven’t seen any listings over the last year or so. The problem for me is that there is so little open in terms restaurants or shopping when the theatre is open. Now, with two grand old palaces open so close together, is there a chance that they will compete over the same kind of attractions and make it hard for both to survive? I sure hope not.

I know some people sill think of downtown Oakland as dangerous, but I have never had any problems there. As LuisV said about Market Street around the Warfield and the Golden Gate, that area is far seedier and intimidating.

LuisV
LuisV on June 17, 2008 at 10:16 am

Thanks Terry, glad to hear about the gentrification of the area around the Oakland Fox and Paramount. On a recent trip to San Francisco, I was absolutely horrified at the conditions on the streets surrounding the Warfiled and Golden Gate theaters. I don’t understand how the city of San Francisco (one of the world’s most beautiful cities) allows this to go on.

New York was able to sweep out almost all of the porn establishments and get the homeless off the streets and that led to the incredible reincarnation of Greater Times Square that we have today. As a result, the neighboring area of Hell’s Kitchen is actually a booming trendy neighborhood that is now a highly desired place to live.

These theaters need to project a “safe” environment to get a large amount of patrons for whatever kind of programming they plan to have, especially if they expect them to come via BART.

New York is still a liberal city and yet they were able to do it. What’s the big issue to San Francisco?

terrywade
terrywade on June 16, 2008 at 3:53 pm

The Paramount is about two blocks away. The downtown Oakland area is coming back to life. New places to eat and many new condos. The people that will run the Fox are music people. They will be open for music type entertainment for the new Fox. We all hope it won’t just be Rock. I think after they test out the place they will find they need to put in some 35mm or video projectors and offer some film things. With the bars set up on different levels It will be more like a night club. Not a disco type place but a classic place to see what you don’t see in San Francisco. With the Fox Warfield now closed for a big remodel job and new renters in San Francisco the Fox Oakland will have to come up with some different things. Bart is just one block away from the Fox Oakland. If they have the right type of event It will bring in people from all over the Bay Area. At this time the downtown part of Market St in SF is way worse then the Fox Oakland location on Telegraph Ave. The two new people that will run both the Warfield and Fox Oakland will need to have good security out front and around the parking areas. Bring plenty of change If you go to the Fox Warfield in SF, as the street people are not out as much in the Fox Oakland area yet.

LuisV
LuisV on June 15, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Great to read about the renovation of the Oakland Fox theater. As has been commented on many posts for many different theaters, it isn’t enough to come up with the money to do the actual restoration. That’s hard enough. But they also have to come up with a way that the restored theater can support itself without further subsidy. Has it been determined specifically what the Fox will do program wise? Will films be part of this mix?

Also, what is the area like around the Fox? Based on the google earth map, the surrounding streetscape looked pretty bleak with little street retail or pedestrian activity.

How far is the Paramount from this theater? Cleveland was able to save five of its historic theaters (which happened to be in close proximity) and create a district called “Playhouse Square”. With 10,000 seats, they claim that it is the country’s second largest performing arts center. Second only to New York’s Lincoln Center.

In New York, the future is quite bright for old palaces like Loews Paradise in the Bronx, Loews 175th Street in Manhattan, The St. George on Staten Island and Loews Jersey in Jersey City. All of these restored gems are in neighborhoods that continue to gentrify, have become safer and are now able to draw the needed crowds to operate in the black. The city is even pursuing the renovation of the fabled Loew’s Kings in Brooklyn, truly one of the most beautiful theaters ever built and sitting empty for the last 30+ years.

terrywade
terrywade on June 15, 2008 at 10:12 am

I remember seeing Molly Brown at the Paramount down the street from the Fox Oakland. They got a mono print and the manager Mr Apple was very upset as the big Hollywood sneak preview was held a few months before at the Paramount with a 4 track stereo print shown. It sounded so great with all the many surrounds on the Paramount walls. The only stereo print I remember seeing at the Fox Oakland was a nice 4 track stereo print of The Music Man. The screen at the Fox Oakland was not as big as the semi curved Oakland Paramount. At the Fox they dropped down black masking to make Cinemascope but did open the side masking a little. The Fox screen was still large and very impresive for it’s day. I hope the Fox will show some films/video when they open. If the Paramount down the street won’t show movies. then the New Fox needs to offer some classic or first run film features. Have some big Hollywood type sneak previews like the old days. Fly up the stars from Southern CA and let them see what a classic movie palace looks like. I worked at both the Fox Oakland till it closed and then over at the Paramount when I was in High School. Mr Apple the manager at the Paramount was a super nice manager as Mr McDougal the head guy at the Fox Oakland was a very hard person to work for. Too bad they are both gone now. They will both miss the big Fox Oakland opening this Oct. I will be at the Fox when it opens along with my friend Ed Jacklich the former manager of Oakland’s Fruitvale and Fairfax Theatres run by Golden State Theatres. Fox West Coast Theatre ran most of the big downtown theatres in Oakland. They went downhill when they changed to more of property business called National General Corp. At least the Fox Oakland, Paramount and Grand Lake are still arround today in 2008 for a new generation to enjoy!

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on June 14, 2008 at 8:39 am

I would love to see more posts about the Fox and films that played there and more up to date info on the restoration.I believe the Fox is the largest theatre currently under restoration in the United States. The Grand Re-opening I believe is in October. THS conclave will be visiting the Fox in July and see the restoration in progress.brucec

Rosealle
Rosealle on May 3, 2008 at 2:40 pm

A girlfriend of mine, who had a fortune telling business on 8th street, and I went there and to see the Pit and the Pendulum. We sat down and the statues up front scared her, she said the place had a entity in it, got up, and walked out in fright. I was in there for a whole 20 minutes. Haven’t been in it since.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on April 28, 2008 at 8:40 am

Question about the Dome. Are they restoring the Dome where you can again see it from the Lobby of the theatre, it would add a nice restored touch to the theatre. What are they planning for the gala reopening in the Fall? I drove by the theatre last week while I was in town and the facade looks beautiful and with that wonderful restored marquee make my heart skip a beat. The Fox will bring some happy news for Oakland because the media is always talking about crime in Oakland and never anything positive. I have never had any problem going Downtown for the last 50 years which has very little crime.I hope the Fox gives Downtown the boost its needed. brucec

GaryParks
GaryParks on April 12, 2008 at 3:20 pm

Major structural work is in progress on the stupa dome at the top of the theater. Restoration work to the terra cotta facade over the marquee is nearing completion and shines like new.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on February 20, 2008 at 7:46 am

I would like to see more movie ads of films that played the Fox over the decades. A few of the movies our family saw at the Fox included “The VIP’s”,“The Unsinkable Molly Brown”,“Von Ryans Express”,“Hombre”,“Valley of the Dolls” and the “Planet of the Apes”.The last film to have an exlusive run was “Rosemarys Baby”. After this the theatre ran Porn,50 cent movies and the Dickens Fair.The Fox started opening and closing from 1965-1969 due to a lack of First Run Exclusive films as the studios had cut back on production and concentrated on the big roadshow films of the day that would play the smaller Roxie and Grand Lake theatres. I hope as stated before that the Grand Opening in October would salute its historic motion picture past as well as its future with live performances.brucec

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on February 8, 2008 at 6:47 am

I hope they salute the past of the Fox when they reopen in the Fall of 2008. It would be great if they did a salute to 20th Century Fox with a film retrospective since this was the company that built the Fox and ran the theatre during its heyday. It would be great if they ran a film retrospective from Shirley Temple to Star Wars.They could end the retropspective with a brand new Fox film. I think this would be a classy way to salute the restoration of the Fox and its past before it starts its new life as a stage venue for live concerts.brucec

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on January 25, 2008 at 8:36 am

Thanks for the photos. Looking forward to seeing more. The ceiling is being painted by Evergreen which has worked on restoration projects around the country. The ceiling is not costing 40 million that is near the price of the entire restoration project.Keep those photos coming. The side walls look a lot different to me than I remember.brucec

gwen
gwen on January 23, 2008 at 5:44 pm

I got to spend a few hours inside the Fox last week while was daughter was doing a fashion shoot for Oakbook magazine, I’ve put some photos up here and have many more to go through/add in the next couple weeks.

I wasn’t able to go into the orchestra level/stage area, but got to explore the mezzanine and upper levels, and walked around the walkway that encircles the top of the theater and get real close to the ceiling. The foreman [?] said they were half done cleaning the ceiling — the nicotine’s 1/8" thick! — and had just returned half the scaffolding [he said just scaffolding rental is $30,000/day, I assume this is before they took half of it out, I think he said the ceiling alone is a $40 million job but don’t quote me on that]. Went into the dome, one side of it is badly earthquake damaged/collapsed. Much of the detail paint is badly peeling but still beautiful. All the seating and carpet have been removed.

The issue of Oakbook with the fashion spread inside the Fox comes out February 7, there’s info about where to pick up a free issue here.

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on January 2, 2008 at 12:09 pm

I wonder if anyone has any restoration pictures of the restoration work going on in the Fox?brucec