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Just my opinion but a legendary theater known as “The Cathedral of the Motion Picture”, the largest in the US and one with 29 pages of photos deserves to be up front in Photos of Famous Theaters.
3 new photos added including a 1980 photo of the front of the theatre.
I found all of cmyerson’s blurry photos in the UCLA Special Collections S. Charles Lee Papers online and have added much sharper images to this page. Apparently cmyerson has not seen the requests to re upload them. Also added are 1 exterior photo from the 40’s, a conceptual rendering from Lee, and 2 photos of the demolition and an exterior shot I took in late fall of 1976.
Photo credit to Tom Davis Photography.
Photo taken by Joe Rosenthal, SF Chronicle on March 15, 1948.
The day after you posted Texas2step uploaded a couple of beauties to the RKO Paramount’s photo page.
Haven’t been in the Kabuki since last summer but clicked on the Food and Drinks tab on the above link and a menu appears and a photo of patrons being served at their seats. Unlike the Alamo New Mission though their doesn’t appear to be a table in front of you to eat at so assuming your lap is the table. There is also a menu at that link.
I don’t know if I would call it “old fashioned” but foreign cinema chains are not new to the US. Cineplex Odeon comes to mind right away. Sounds like Cinemex and Cineopolis are following Alamo’s lead with dine in theaters. AMC also recently started offering dine in meals at some of it’s theaters. Apparently even TV sales are declining as people switch to phones, IPads, computer screens for watching videos and films. I think there will always be a film audience that prefers a theater with a decent size screen and good sound and a diverse number of exhibitors. Currently there are around 100 chains (large and small) in the US.
The name of this theater has changed to AMC Dine In Kabuki 8.
AMC Dine in
Named after the founder Marcus Loew (pronounced low). So “Lows”. Or NYers of a certain age might say, Low-eze.
Why the intense security? Metal detectors, being wanded? Is this something new?
The comment made by orlando…"when the box office experiences problems with today’s ticket selling methods" sounded like the reason for the late start. I have personally experienced this (at a SF movie theater) when people by a ticket online and then have their cell phone barcode scanned and the ticket takers cell phone took inordinately long to do the task.
Getting the answers to your 2 questions may not be as simple. There are a lot of links to this theater online but no definitive timeline after 1972 that would provide answers for you. My recollection (and going back 45 years may be hazy) but I seem to remember 1st or 2nd run martial arts films playing in the 70’s, for a period the theater hosted live bands (late 70’s-early 80’s?), then XXX in the 80’s and “live” XXX shows added (90’s?) before closing in 2013.
Exterior panel advertisement 1932
One way to keep a 108 year old theater continuously open is to think outside the box for new avenues of income and ways to stay afloat. This was in today’s SFChronicle:
The ad for the West Coast premier of Towering Inferno at both the Parkside and Alexandria is here:
Towering Inferno Ad
Picky picky detail but it’s actually on Taraval between 19th Ave and 20th Ave. 19th St is in the Mission district, miles away. Really nice photo of this theater and also the wider Irving pic you posted. Thanks.
Really great photos, thanks for posting them.
Interesting story in today’s SF Chronicle about a woman on a mission to save the Guild preemptively. The theater is still open w/Landmark running it on a month to month lease but “just in case"…. I believe this is the last or one of the last single screen theaters between San Francisco and San Jose along or just off of El Camino Real, the 50 mile main drag of the Peninsula.
From this morning’s SF Chronicle. The link to the article is below.
“The buyer was a joint venture between Ricci Ventures and Green Point Land Co., both Marin investment groups.
Plans for the building are not yet firm. Project architect John Goldman said the overriding goal is to restore the tower and theater to their original splendor. He said the owners would like to lease it to a theater group and have reached out to San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco, both nearby. Neither institution has expressed interest to date.
Goldman described himself as a longtime Pflueger buff and former board member of the Art Deco Society of California. He said the owners have to figure out a way to make the venture profitable, but that they are committed to rehabbing its historic fabric.
“If anyone is worried about my respecting the building — don’t be,” he said. “I love the building. The owners love the building. And we’re going to do right by the building. My goal is to figure out how to restore it.”
I walked by this building yesterday and have posted a couple of pictures on the photos page. You can see on the facade where the marquee was attached to the brick which looks like it was never repaired after it was removed. Besides it’s nickelodeon and movie theater past it has functioned as a storefront church, a rehearsal hall for the Grateful Dead and now home to the London based Gurdjieff Society.
I emailed the manager of my local neighborhood surviving movie palace (in another Calif. city up north) last month asking what was up with the dismal presentation of the 4K “restoration” of The Thin Red Line (last summer) and then 2 other films I’d seen recently in late fall. In all cases I asked why the projectors were not projecting bright and sharp. His answer – “We are not responsible for the digital files sent to us”. Oh.
I had seen Star Wars in 3D digital in early Jan 2016 at a different (large screen) theater. Their presentation (sound and picture quality) of it was extraordinary – they used a Sony 4K dual projection system.
Either customers are going to have to start complaining or will just stop going – or – dim projection is going to be the new normal.
bigjoe59 the Roxie is a true survivor. It has nearly closed at least twice in the last 10 – 15 years, saved by creative people who think outside the box. In fact, the 49 seat Little Roxie was opened several years ago 2 storefronts away from the Roxie and both are now run as independant non profits. Recently the SF voters passed Prop J – the Legacy Business Registry in response to so much loss of long time SF businesses due to gentrification and building owners selling to developers for housing. The Registry’s aim is to help non profits like the Roxie stay in business with perks/financial help to the building owners and non profits themselves. The fact that it showed (16/35mm film) porn at one time is irrelevant. If it had been presenting live (porn) stage acts only you’d have a point.
This quote is at the top of the page on the Roxie’s home page:
“The Roxie is the oldest continuously operated cinema in the United States, and the second oldest in the world!”
Yes, the Victoria opened as a vaudeville house and not consistently shown films throughout it’s history but it is one year older than the Roxie and is SF’s oldest operating theatre (according to it’s webpage). Only the South San Francisco Opera House is older (1888) but is primarily used for neighborhood events and not many at that (and not movies).
After re reading the blog page I linked above the last post says the El Rey (Majestic) in Chico, Calif opened in 1906 and still showing films. But it’s website says it also has concerts and events and “occasional films”.
I agree but my understanding is that landmarked buildings in SF usually need to still be pretty much intact with (at minimum) original exterior architecture. The 4 Star’s exterior has been changed several times.
From online research, the Roxie (1909) in the Mission Dist. is the oldest continually operating movie theatre in San Francisco. Linked is a blog from CT on the oldest continually operating US theatre:
A couple of posters on that thread say there are others as early as 1906 still in operation in other cities.
The Victoria Theatre (1908), also in the Mission and just a couple of blocks away from the Roxie, is the oldest continuing operating theatre in SF. It has presented vaudeville up to 1933, movies until the 60’s, burlesque until the late 70’s, dark, then reconstruction and renovation in the early 80’s and since then films, concerts and stage events.