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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.
Jack Tillmany’s history of the 4 Star (published in 2013) for the Western Neighborhoods Project on the OutsideLands website:
I think the strangest thing about this story is the attempt to sell an historic 114 year old movie theatre for nearly $3million on Craigslist. Lee Neighborhood Theatres does have a website and it seems they are also trying to attract neighborhood Chinese and Russian residents (who still have communities in the Outer Richmond Dist.). Housing is badly needed all over SF but I doubt the tech types would gravitate out towards the beach, far from freeways to Silicon Valley and in a neighborhood not nearly as gentrified as some on the east side of the City.
I’ve also posted author Jack Tillmany’s history of the 4 Star (from 2013) for the Western Neighborhood’s Project on the CT 4 Star page.
The Curran has only shown 2 films in it’s 95 year history, The Phantom of the Opera mentioned in the overview above, and more recently Fences was screened last month. The Curran had been closed for a year for a lobby renovations and restoration of the auditorium. Here are a couple of articles on it w/pictures:
Curbed Article on the Curran
Are moviebuff82 and muviebuf the same person? I can hear Bud Collyer right now. “Will the real moviebuff please stand up”.
Admittedly, I am not a fan of multiplexes. However I do like to see films at several near me. One has a giant floor to ceiling, wall to wall XD theater and another has a large curving screen with Dolby Atmos and now installing Dolby Vision and reclining seats. Glad to hear this one does good business but is there better projection, seating, sound?? What I remember most from this theatre’s comments are the long winded one person conversations that for quite a while went on daily.
Also – Have friends in Caldwell and had a friend in Morristown that moved a year ago. Really beautiful country around there.
Why does a chain cookie cutter mallplex even have 1500+ comments? What is so special about this AMC outpost in north central New Jersey?
2 years of posts are missing from this page. I’ve noticed that some of my posts for other theaters were deleted also. ???
re terrywade – Cinema 13 was the theater that had a Dolby Atmos sound system installed for Gravity. Dolby Vision Cinema will still use the Atmos sound system, add more comfortable seating and the latest in digital projection.
Hi bigjoe59 – Perhaps this is it? Listed as Fox Criterion:
A fire that destroyed most of the interior of the Balboa occurred in 1978. It resulted in the theater being twinned during the renovation. Another online article also mentions a fire in the 1940’s but no mention of any injuries in either fire. One would probably need to research the archives of the local newspapers for more details. This June 2016 Hoodline article honoring the Balboa mentions the 1978 fire:
There was cosmetic damage from the earthquake but the theater had been strengthened during it’s most recent renovation during the first decade of the 2000’s. The (Nov 2014) Napa Valley Register link with proscenium damage pic has the details:
Interior and exterior photos added.
What’s with the confederate flag avatar? It is a symbol of slavery and racism.