Strand Theatre

1127 Market Street,
San Francisco, CA 94103

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Showing 26 - 50 of 73 comments

adolforios on June 22, 2008 at 9:21 pm

I lived briefly in San Francisco in the autumn of 1990. Saw an all-day horror movie festival at the Strand that Halloween. The place was older and had an interesting crowd.
Had a great time and love seeing old photos of the place.

Aerick on March 23, 2008 at 4:36 am

at least it’s still standing..

I left SF in 2001, but lived there from 1982 to 2001. I used to go to their revival showings. Saw Gone with the Wind there in 1983 I think. Saw “Cruising”, “zardoz”, “1984” and others. Back in 1983/84 i wasn’t too bad, and an easy walk from Market/Powell to see an inexpensive movie. I too remember picking up those sheets listing the movies upcoming.

What I remember was the steep balcony.

Since I’ve left SF, I’ve come to appreciate older architecture. I sure hope this theatre remains intact somehow.

domino1003 on March 20, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Thanks for the photo. God, I miss the Strand!

jokirb on March 10, 2008 at 2:57 pm

My husband worked at the Strand in 1947/48. He was 18 or 19 and held the job of Assistant Manager. It was a busy and well liked theater at the time and it was many many years before it was relegated to porn. It was a fun time to work on Market Street. The Market street theater employees were a social group and after the theaters closed they would get together to eat at New Joe’s or whatever San Francisco
night spot caught their interest at the time. This was a happy part of his youth after getting out of the Merchant Marines.

William on October 23, 2007 at 7:10 pm

flickhead, Thanks for sharing those schedules. It brings back memories of all those theatres that ran revival schedules. I got to go to the Strand a few times when I was in San Francisco. The Nuart and Fox Venice Theatres were the ones I went to.

flickhead on October 23, 2007 at 6:23 pm

To see a bunch of scans of Strand schedules from 1978 & ‘79, click here.

domino1003 on August 26, 2007 at 8:44 pm

Thank you so much for the photo. It brings back such wonderful memories of all day features, Rocky Horror, and make-out sessions in the balcony!

davidkaye on August 15, 2007 at 12:53 pm

Mike Thomas, as far as I know, still operates the Minor Theatre in Arcata, and is still active in the cinema business. I believe he resigned from Strand Releasing several years ago, which is where he had been dedicating a lot of his energies after he reduced his involvement in running cinemas.

Mike (saps)
Mike (saps) on August 15, 2007 at 11:52 am

The balcony was the place to go when the movie got a little slow…

scottfavareille on August 15, 2007 at 11:50 am

As I recall, the Strand was showing triple bills of subrun fare in 1976, with frequent changes. (Plus the nightly bingo games.)

dingoman on August 15, 2007 at 10:49 am

The Strand was a great grind house and careful attention was paid to the pairing of flicks on the same programs more often than not when it was managed by Mike Thomas who also took the Warfield for a while. I saw Rocky Horror there for my first time at midnight shows that he ran for years. The calendar that came out throughout the city was an odd sized sheet that displayed titles of films and we always looked for the new one to come out.

I had wished that Mike would have taken the Embassy next door as from what I recall it was a neat theater too! The grind policy there was geared to an older audience and the management was strict about THAT! They too had a loyal following of seniors. One of the Embassy’s employees, an older man, once told me that they provided rrlief and respite at their theater and their audience didn’t have to worry “about the balcony types the Strand has……”

Being a gay male I resented that comment but also understood that many older people probably were homophobic and chose the Embassy over the Strand.

dingoman on August 15, 2007 at 10:40 am

Whatever happened to Mike Thomas??? Anyone know?

jordanlage on August 4, 2007 at 8:10 pm

I, too, spent many an afternoon watching great old revivals at the Strand from about 1977 to 1979. Was it running as a revival house in 1976? This was my film education as a young teen (I was 13 in ‘76), hitting all the revival and 2nd run houses in San Fancisco and the East Bay, such as the Northside and the UC in Berkeley, and another tiny place on Telegraph near Durant St. whose name escapes me. I remember paying a buck at the Strand to see double bills such as the 1st two Godfather films, Mean Streets & Taxi Driver, 8 ½ & Roma, Straw Dogs & Cross of Iron perhaps, and my favorite double feature, Black Sunday & Marathon Man. Chinatown, The Graduate, Five Easy Pieces, many more I saw at all these places. I recall the interior of the Strand as being pitch black, couldn’t see anything but what was on screen, with red velvet curtains at the lobby entrances to the auditoriums to keep out the harsh afternoon sunlight. I believe I still have some of those great old Strand revival programs in a box somewhere, too, pack rat that I am. But then, I loved the movies. And going to a theater with programming like the Strand was moviegoing nirvana. I also hit the other nearby Market St. grindhouses—the St. Francis, the Warfield. Thanks Mike Thomas, wherever you are.

SFLee on June 8, 2007 at 3:42 pm

Overnight Fire Burns Old Strand Theater Building
Building Was Vacant; No Injuries
By Amy Hollyfield
Jun. 8 – KGO – An overnight fire damaged a building that used to house a landmark San Francisco theater.

It was a massive fire at the old Strand Theater on Market Street where San Franciscans used to come to the movies.

The roof caught fire around midnight last night. The building is empty, but the fire was so huge, that firefighters evacuated the residential hotel two doors down until they could extinguish the fire.

Firefighters say homeless people often gather on the roof of the Strand and sometimes start little fires to keep themselves warm. So the arson team will be looking into how the enormous fire started.

The good news is that firefighters were able to save the building.

Asst. Chief James Barden, San Francisco Fire Dept.: “It was a pretty good size fire up there &15, 20 feet in the air. It could be seen from quite a distance but it was all contained to the roof so it didn’t get into the building itself.”

No one was hurt in the fire.

The building is located on Market Street, just down from 7th Street in a rundown part of the city, right across from U.N. Plaza.

The Strand Theater is now empty as is the building next door.
Video: View link

Copyright 2007, ABC7/KGO-TV/DT.

Michael on June 8, 2007 at 8:06 am

FIRE——The Strand Theater San Francisco——FIRE
The Strand Theater was delt another blow last night, one of many in recent years. It seems that homeless people squating in the vacant theater started a FIRE. When the Fire Department arrived at Midnight they found flames shooting off the roof. The news reported that the fire was contained to the roof on the front of the building, as in the lobby so hopefully the auditorium was not affected. This theater has fell on hard times as you can read above. Hopefully this does not signal the end of The Strand. There are very fue Theater Buildings left on Market Street, and the entire city for that matter.

picolicopico on June 6, 2007 at 3:04 am

Finally I find this. I venture into this theater back in 1999 or 2000 to see a movie, since I had a couple of hours to spend. They were showing bone collector, and I had never been there before. I think it cost just 2 dollars.

I was quite surprised. First of the very old style of the lobby, which I liked, and the old video games. But the biggest surprise was inside the theater. Most people looked like bums, some sleeping. People were smoking in there. And a woman kept looking at me. She was sitting with a guy though, but followed me when I went outside to check out those video games. It seemed to me that given what I have seen in there, she was probably be a prostitute, so I ignored her. Now from reading this page, it seems to confirm that.

I have been looking for this strange theater last time I was in SF, but couldn’t find it, to find out what the heck this place is. So this page confirms that it’s gone, and I guess that’s the place where there is a strip club now.

flickhead on May 15, 2007 at 3:12 pm

You might enjoy my Strand articles:

View link

and the May 15 entry on my blog:

domino1003 on May 15, 2007 at 1:50 pm

Wow! Those take me back! I used to always grab copies of those schedules and plan ahead to catch some movies! Thanks.

domino1003 on May 15, 2007 at 1:49 pm

Wow! Those take me back! I used to always grab copies of those schedules and plan ahead to catch some movies! Thanks.

flickhead on May 15, 2007 at 11:10 am

Front and back of a 1978 Strand schedule:

View link

View link

davidkaye on April 28, 2007 at 7:55 pm

In the photo referenced above, View link , the empty lot to the left of the Strand was the Embassy, which closed due to quake damage in 1989 and was demolished not long after. The Strand itself hasn’t seen any action in many years.

davidkaye on April 28, 2007 at 7:55 pm

In the photo referenced above, View link , the empty lot to the left of the Strand was the Embassy, which closed due to quake damage in 1989 and was demolished not long after. The Strand itself hasn’t seen any action in many years.

domino1003 on April 28, 2007 at 5:31 pm

Growing up in San Francisco, my mom would take me and my siblings to movies every weekend on Market Street. And one of my favorite theaters was The Strand. It was the Strand that influenced my love of movies, introduced me to the Time Warp when I first saw Rocky Horror, and allowed me to sit back and enjoy good old-fashioned popcorn. It saddens me that the theater would fall apart to such an extent that it would be shut down by cops because it became (a)a porn theater that was inhabited by (b)druggies and hookers. I’ll always remember the good times, and not what it was reduced to.

butters on September 29, 2006 at 8:52 pm

The Strand will always have a fond spot in my heart. Many, many memories. I came to San Francisco in 1978 and lived in a hotel above a bar in the Tenderloin. No TV, kitchen, nothing. Little money also. Would go to the Strand every weekend to see their triple-bills for $1.50. Would watch movies for 12 hours straight until my eyes felt like they were going to pop out of my head. Saw so many great/fun movies here – James Bond, The Wild Bunch, Polanski movies, Texas Chainsaw, etc. You learned quickly not to sit on the ends – you could see the roaches crawling on the walls. And if you sat downstairs, you NEVER sat directly under the balcony. Saw mice and God knows what else being dropped on people! THE MOST MEMORABLE showing for me was a double-bill of Madam Kitty and Pier Pasolini’s Salo:The Last 120 Days of Sodom and Gomorrah. Salo was so hard to stomach that it was the ONLY movie I ever saw where half the people at the Strand couldn’t take it and walked out.