2141 Chestnut Street,
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Built on the site of the Panama International Exhibition. The Marina Theatre opened September 21, 1928, as a second run movie house. The theatre’s exterior was an elegant Moorish creation. Seating was provided for 1,050 on a stadium plan. In February 1952, the theatre was extensively remodeled to the plans of architect Vincent G. Raney, with little of the original design remaining on the exterior or interior.
On December 23, 1965 the Marina Theatre was renamed Cinema 21 and changed from second run films to showcase first run movies. Here were the exclusive runs of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf”, “Rosemary’s Baby” and the reserved seat roadshow attraction of “Hello Dolly” in the 1960’s. As multiplexes rose in San Francisco, first run films were no longer exclusive to the Cinema 21 and the theatre closed September 20, 2001. The Cinema 21 was the last theatre in San Francisco to retain its original organ (The current Wurlitzer organ in the Castro Theatre was installed there in 1982, replacing the original Conn organ).
Frank Lee, who reopened the Presidio Theatre across the street, made arrangements to reopen the newly renamed Marina Theatre. Ground floor has become a pharmacy. On its former balcony level, a 264 seat stadium seated large auditorium, and a 86 seat screening room have been created. The Marina Theatre reopened May 2, 2008 with “Ironman” showing in the large screen.
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