Coronet Theatre

3575 Geary Boulevard,
San Francisco, CA 94118

Unfavorite 21 people favorited this theater

Coronet Theatre exterior

Viewing: Photo | Street View

Opened on November 2, 1949, this Streamline Moderne ‘cavern’ with 1,350 seats on a stadium plan, was San Francisco’s Church of the Big-Budget Blockbuster. Both “Star Wars: Special Edition” and “Phantom Menace” made their debuts here, with people camping for weeks in the dumpster-strewn parking lot.

Despite its massive appeal, gigantic screen, and state-of-the-art sound system, the Coronet Theatre was closed in March 2005 and was razed in the summer of 2007 for a senior-care facility.

Contributed by Juan-Miguel Gallegos

Recent comments (view all 136 comments)

August
August on February 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm

I saw the first morning screening of STAR WARS on opening day in 1977, and came back 24 times. At least. Saw many, many great movies there over the years, and some not so great. Every time I pass where this theater once stood, I get a little angry. But, I was glad to be one of four school kids who skipped classes to see STAR WARS with about twenty-five Senior Citizens, at the legendary Coronet Theatre that day!

GaryMeyer
GaryMeyer on August 23, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Jimwhiterice, How is your book on SF Theatres coming. I have been involved with SF theaters for many years starting with the Times in the late 1960s. I wrote a chapter in LEFT IN THE DARK. http://julielindow.com/?p=1

Gary Meyer

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on October 5, 2012 at 8:37 am

Remembering “Star Wars” at the Coronet: slideshow and article here.

EricGoebel
EricGoebel on March 13, 2013 at 11:38 pm

When I finally made to you I knew I was the fortunate one. Inheriting Guido Girolo’s booth was an honor…and when he made a visit to his former theatre it was his way of saying in an unspoken manner he approved of my operation. So many sensed my passion and made that booth run like a Swiss watch: Mike C, Richie B, Sam Chavez, Rolfe and Ben, and the Great Man Albert Levin for trusting my judgement. I cried an ocean of tears when the end came. I will always miss you my fine lady.

ajtarantex
ajtarantex on March 14, 2013 at 4:19 am

Eric So well Put I was thinking about you and Mr Albert and Birdy, and Dudley and Tim and Kathy, These were sun Fun Days that i had the pleasure of being there and having so many times that, I was so bored and couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there . And yes you did a Great Job in the booth. you didnt mention my favorite projectionest was Jim Dixon. email me sum time John Tarantino

GaryMeyer
GaryMeyer on March 14, 2013 at 6:48 am

Yes Eric was a godsend for the Coronet. As dedicated as they get.

I booked the Coronet and the other UATC Theaters in Northern California from !972-1977. Good ole Albert Levin—-a fixture and a character. We had a lot of sneak previews there as filmmakers loved the place——except maybe the night Stanley Donen, Liza Minnelli and Burt Reynolds sneaked LUCKY LADY and there were constant projection problems. They came up front and told stories, just as Coppola did at the GODFATHER 2 sneak with a break down. Those were the days of changeover and for sneaks, double system which is where the problem usually was. The studio would bring in their own sound and projection team to screw it up in a booth they did not know.

Booking STAR WARS was my job. UATC and Fox had a strong relationship. 20th wanted THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT in the best venues and luckily they also liked the Alexandria so I put that drama there, saving the Coronet for STAR WARS. Nobody at Fox nor practically anybody in the movie business believed in the Lucas space western, just as they had no faith in AMERICAN GRAFFITI before it.

So a lot of theaters got a new life by proving they could gross when they fell into STAR WARS as a last choice.

I had friends at Lucas and knew about their own unique grass roots marketing efforts that even Fox wasn’t aware of dedicated to generating massive turnout of science fiction fans to camp overnight and be the first to see it. (The head of distribution told me in Feb.that the Board has slept through it and were going to shelve it—-until I told him that the comic book and paperback novel were huge hits and about the science fiction convention slide shows Charles Lippincott was doing).

All went according to plan and in San Francisco and around the country the Lucas folks posing as regular folks called broadcast news directors and print editors to say, “Hey…what is going on at the Coronet? I just drove by and there are hundreds of people with their sleeping bags wrapped around the corner.”

Those camera crews arrived in plenty of time for the 11:00 o'clock newscast. The morning papers had front page photos. And the rest of the world was suddenly curious about this social phenomenon they hadn’t previously heard about and didn’t want their friends to find out they weren’t hip enough to have seen STAR WARS. They had to go asap. And thus the inverted word-of-mouth pyramid scheme was launched.

And science fiction suddenly came out of the geek closet.

hdtv267
hdtv267 on May 28, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Thanks for that Gary.

I was able to get to Coronet a few times during my visits. One of the theatres I miss so in San Francisco.

Some thirty six years ago, “Star Wars” was playing to record crowds here.

The SF Chronicle has some great photos and older ads commerating this..

http://blog.sfgate.com/thebigevent/2013/05/27/star-wars-and-the-coronet-in-1977-an-oral-history/#12582-4

ppetitclerc
ppetitclerc on June 29, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I walked by the Coronet Theatre one Fall day in 1966 and saw a Help Wanted sign on the Box office window, remembering the time years earlier when my brother and I saw Ben Hur, I decided to apply for a Job. I was hired and started working that very night as an usher . I stayed for 10 years .many memories of the people I worked with, the movies that premiered and the crowd of theatre goers from “Hawaii ” in ‘66 to “ Star Wars in '77

pbignardi
pbignardi on July 6, 2013 at 8:11 pm

For the Star Wars reissue in 1996 – this was the one time I slept overnight in line for a movie. My girlfriend, later wife Terri, got in line in the early afternoon and I came over to take over after eating dinner at Mel’s Drive In (the tie in to George Lucas was great!). After midnight it quieted down nicely except for some nut case dressed as Chewbacca who was running around half of the night. By morning the line was past the 76 station and curling around the block. We were in the line for tickets for the first night show. The day show line went the other direction – and I think eventually the two lines met on Anza street to the south. It was all worth it. Now with advance ticketing this sort of craziness is history.

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