Coronet Theatre

3575 Geary Boulevard,
San Francisco, CA 94118

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Additional Info

Previously operated by: United Artists Theater Circuit Inc.

Architects: Alexander Aimwell Cantin, A. Mackenzie Cantin

Firms: Cantin and Cantin

Styles: Streamline Moderne

Nearby Theaters

News About This Theater

Coronet Theatre exterior

Opened on November 2, 1949 with Cary Grant in “I Was a Male War Bride”. This Streamline Moderne ‘cavern’ with 1,350 seats on a stadium plan, became 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 140 comments)

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.

Patrick Petitclerc
Patrick Petitclerc 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 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.

Coate on October 29, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Happy 50th! “My Fair Lady” opened at the Coronet on this day in 1964 (and went on to become one of the theater’s longest-running engagements).

Chapps on January 26, 2017 at 9:54 pm

I grew up on Parker Avenue, just around the corner from the Coronet – so, of course, it was our favorite theater in town. If my sister and I were good, my mom would pay for loge seating, and we felt like royalty! (Sometimes, my mom would just buy herself a loge seat, and leave us to our own noisy devices in the cheap seats)

I remember our dog escaping from the house one day, and we were crazed, running around the neighborhood looking for him. About two hours later, we got a call from the manager of the Coronet, asking us if we had a little schnauzer named Spockie (named after Mr. Spock – it was the 60s). We went to collect him, but he really wanted to stay, since they were feeding him hot dogs. The smell probably brought him there in the first place.

And, yes, I saw Star Wars there about a week after it opened, waiting in a huge line, even though I had already seen it twice down in the Palo Alto area (one of those geodesic dome theaters – forget the name). Because I had to see it in my childhood movie theater, or it wouldn’t have been the same.

A few years ago, I took my husband on a tour of ‘my’ San Francisco, and got confused, thinking I had somehow misplaced the Coronet. We stopped at Pier 1, and the employee there pointed to the hulking retirement facility a few doors down, saying ‘That’s where it was’. Gutted.

DavidZornig on May 29, 2017 at 12:49 am

Summer 1995 photo added credit Larry Oliver.

Coate on June 19, 2017 at 10:39 pm

The Coronet was among just eleven theaters in the United States that installed the then-new Dolby Digital sound system for their engagement of “Batman Returns” which opened twenty-five years ago today. And here’s the link to a retrospective article that commemorates the occasion.

MSC77 on December 14, 2017 at 7:43 pm

Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” opened here forty years ago today (thanks to a court order that brought an end to venue’s run of “Star Wars”). This venue was among only about three dozen nationwide to play the movie in a 70mm presentation and the run played for a hugely-successful 27 weeks. For more, please see my retrospective article celebrating the movie’s 40th anniversary.

rivest266 on August 5, 2018 at 11:03 pm

November 2nd, 1949 grand opening ad posted.

sfinthe80s on August 18, 2018 at 10:41 pm

I used to drive past this theater all of the time, not particularly interested about what went on inside since they never really screened the films I liked to watch. Today I regret not ever having patronized it and getting to experience one of the city’s better theaters before multi-plexes came along and annihilated the single screen business model.

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