Telenews Theatre

930 Market Street,
San Francisco, CA 94102

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Telenews Theater and Other San Francisco Theater Row Venues

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The San Francisco Telenews Theatre on Market Street opened on September 1, 1939, featuring footage of the Nazi invasion of Poland. It was located next to the Esquire Theatre. Further information on this theater would be appreciated.

Contributed by Bryan Krefft

Recent comments (view all 12 comments)

GaryParks on December 11, 2007 at 12:23 am

The facade of the Telenews featured a wonderful polychrome terra cotta fan of leafy and geometric shapes radiating above the marquee on an otherwise sleek, moderne composition. I recall seeing a color photo of it. The site of both the Esquire and Telenews is now an open plaza, with access to the subway tracks of both MUNI and BART.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on May 6, 2008 at 10:22 pm

One unique feature of Telenews Theatres was that the managers of each house in the chain would edit the newsreels provided by the major studios, adding in locally produced footage about local events. One brief bit of film that was probably produced by the San Francisco Telenews Theatre’s manager has survived in the Prelinger Archives, and is available at the Internet Archive. It’s called Dead Fair, and consists of scenes of the Golden Gate International Exposition’s grounds and buildings after the fair had closed in 1940. (Adobe Flash Player 7.0 or above required, and Javascript must be enabled)

JohnnyEponymous on December 18, 2012 at 10:05 am

The KTVU archive posted this look at the closing of the Telenews. It mentioned it was a travelogue theatre. Chris

richardj on February 2, 2013 at 5:04 pm

The Telenews was part of a national chain of newsreel theaters which flourished particularly in World War II. Indeed, the San Francisco Telenews opened its doors on September 1, 1939, the exact day of the German invasion of Poland, which started WWII. In those days, a newsreel was a standard part of the movie experience. A theater which showed just news and information was not unlike what CNN did on television compared to the network coverages. In addition to newsreels there were short subjects in the one hour program that changed weekly. If one went there at 11am Friday one could have a “twofer”…watch the past weeks show and see the newone for just one price. A box office innovation was a turnstyle at the cashier’s window, saving the cost of paying a ticket taker. During the war the Telenews had a large billboard on the street providing visual coverage of the latest news. Not uncommonly there was a piece of military equipment for the curious. There was a weekly man in the street radio interview also originating at he Telenews; in deed, a young and coming radio personality named Art Linkletter was the interviewer!

Cinemaven on April 22, 2013 at 6:39 pm

There was also a Telenews theatre in Chicago. I actually believe there were 2 Telenews cinemas. One On N.State St which later became the Loop theatre; Which operated until the late 1970’s. Also one on N.Rush St which later became the Carnegie. And then had a major fire in early 1966, But was rebuilt shortly thereafter, And operated until the 1980’s.

GeorgeSenda on October 4, 2017 at 5:48 am

This theater had a huge fire that started in the projection room. Sadly an amazing fact is that at one time there were 59 movie theaters on Market Street. Only the Orpheum Theatre now showing plays survives.

GeorgeSenda on October 4, 2017 at 5:48 am

I forgot about The Warfield which has rock concerts.

stevenj on October 4, 2017 at 11:21 am

Also the Golden Gate at Market and Taylor with musicals and plays. Run by Shorenstein Hays Nederlander (SHN) – On Your Feet (the Gloria Estefan musical) is currently playing.

Hamm on February 9, 2018 at 7:49 pm

In the early 60s I occasionally went into the Telenews theatre. I was in junior high school at the time, and noted it had a very different vibe from the many other theatres on Market street, as it was one of the left over attractions for service personnel during World War 2. By my own era, there were nearly always far more seats than customers. I dimly recall an emphasis on newsreels and travelogues, bare wood chairs, a lack of heating, and less ornamentation on the wall. Despite all that, it had a peculiar magic. Occasionally they would also offer special televised viewings when the big boxing matches came around. And after the Telenews, I’d sometimes go to one of the nearby diners with unusually long counters. These places also had a different vibe, having served hotdogs and sodas even for a few years after the war. There were also more upscale restaurants nearby, and all the kids knew that many of their customers were veterans who had managed to come home after the war.

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