Market Street Cinema

1077 Market Street,
San Francisco, CA 94103

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Market Street Cinema view from balcony

Opened as Grauman’s Imperial Theatre on December 22, 1912, this theatre remained under the operation of Sid Grauman until it was sold in 1919.

The theatre was first renamed in August of 1929, as the Premiere Theatre, and then, on March 28 1931, it was renamed again, this time as the United Artists Theatre after undergoing a remodel to the plans of architectural firm Walker & Eisen, with architect Clifford A. Balch. The United Artists Theatre was remodeled in 1959 to the plans of architect Carl G. Moeller, reopening on April 23, 1959 with Marilyn Monroe in “Some Like It Hot”. On October 15, 1969, the theatre was purchased by Loews and renamed Loews Market Street Cinema. They operated it until 1972, when it became the Market Street Cinema.

Regular movies gave way to XXX adult films and in recent years, these were dropped in favor of adult ‘live’ entertainment performances. The Market Street Cinema was closed January 2013. It was demolished in July 2016.

The Market Street Cinema was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 57 comments)

bigjoe59 on April 12, 2017 at 1:56 pm

Hello From NYC-

i have a simple 2 part question-a)when this theater close down as a regular movie theater was it still a 1st run venue or had it become a 2nd/3rd run grind house? b)what time passed between it closing down as a regular movie theater and reopening as an adult cinema?

stevenj on April 12, 2017 at 4:22 pm

Hi bigjoe59- 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.

cjwin on April 17, 2017 at 6:19 am

bigjoe59 Both the comments earlier in this thread and in other sources lead me to believe that The MSC locale began exclusively showing “adult” films in 1980 and then brought back mainstream “roadshow” films for just a few months before returning to adult films until 1986. At that time it seems that they moved over to a combined nude strip club in front section/ projected video of adult film in back section setup, its final advertised format when the locale went dark in Jan. 2013.

GeorgeSenda on October 4, 2017 at 2:35 am

The theater as a strip club had several people die in it and was haunted. Paranormal investigators were terrified to go into the basement where the deaths occurred.

GaryParks on October 13, 2017 at 4:23 pm

During demolition, during preparations to salvage the “Grauman’s Imperial Theater” stained glass window in the lobby, we went down into the under-stage basement several times, and saw the body outline on the floor, and there were dozens of bullet holes in the fire door at the opposite end of the basement room. we took photos of the room, but nothing extraordinary showed up in our images. With the noise of the Bobcats and backhoe above us, there was no real sense of creepiness, let alone terror. It would have been interesting to have been in the same space when the theatre was abandoned—before demolition began.

rivest266 on July 31, 2018 at 10:28 am

This became United Artists on March 28th, 1931. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

rivest266 on August 11, 2018 at 9:12 am

Reopened as Loew’s on October 15th, 1969. Another ad posted.

dallasmovietheaters on May 9, 2019 at 8:03 pm

Relaunched April 23, 1959 after a two-month, $250,000 revamp to the plans of Carl G. Moeller. The “all new” United Artists launched with “Some Like It Hot.” Ad in photos.

Trolleyguy on August 31, 2020 at 7:47 am

1959 photo downloaded to photos.

DavidZornig on February 28, 2021 at 8:05 am

Enlargeable 1957 photo in Shorpy link. Click “view full size”.

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