El Rey Theatre

1970 Ocean Avenue,
San Francisco, CA

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El Rey Theatre

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The first film to play at the El Rey was “The Smiling Lieutenant”, starring Maurice Chevalier. The theater opened in 1931 and closed in 1977.

Designed by Timothy Pfleuger, who is best known for his work on the Paramount in Oakland, the El Rey still stands to this day as a church.

Contributed by Juan-Miguel Gallegos

Recent comments (view all 8 comments)

William
William on November 13, 2003 at 3:03 am

The El Rey Theatre is located at 1970 Ocean Ave. and it seated 1831 people.

Lawrence
Lawrence on January 29, 2004 at 4:57 am

I visited this theater back in the mid-70’s. At the time United Artists booked the place with B movies week in and week out. On
their big screen was a recent exploitation picture called THE DEVILS RAIN
starring Ernest Borgnine. I recall seeing only about ten patrons
sitting in that big, beautiful house.

gsmurph
gsmurph on July 1, 2004 at 11:45 am

El Rey’s status should probably list “Closed,” rather than “Open.”

robertcampbell
robertcampbell on April 15, 2005 at 4:29 pm

The El Rey, located on Ocean avenue, was a beautiful theatre. The mitchell brothers rented it out and showed their premiere screening of “Autobiography of a Flea” complete with champagne and blotter acid. Before it became the Church of the Pentecost, Margo St. James of Coyote, had a week long film festival about prostitution worldwide. Magnificent films were shown there. Patronage was terrible. The interior layout of the theatre is exactly the same as the Alameda Theatre, as both were built by Timothy Pfluger, but the artwork was entirely different. If you are ever in the area, the congregation is very friendly and will let you walk around. Still a beautiful theatre!

kencmcintyre
kencmcintyre on January 10, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Interior and exterior photos on this site:
http://tinyurl.com/8nhfnq

EmptyP
EmptyP on April 26, 2009 at 4:06 am

There were retail spaces in this building on both sides of the entrance to the theater. In 1969 The Gap opened its first store in the easternmost retail space just to the right of the theater entrance at the corner of Ocean Ave and Fairfield Way. A picture is here:
http://www.gapinc.com/public/About/about.shtml
You can see a portion the theater’s tower in the background.

Back in the early seventies, a friend and I saw a “Planet of the Apes” marathon there.

JGGreco
JGGreco on March 13, 2012 at 3:32 pm

@lostmemory thanks for posting the 1970 photo. I remember seeing B&C&Ted&Alice at the El Rey at that time. It was a beautiful theater. I also remember seeing “Bikini Beach” there in 1964. The stars John Ashley, Mary Hughes and Candy Johnson were in the lobby signing autographed publicity photos. Wish I still had them.

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