New Century Theater

816 Larkin Street,
San Francisco, CA 94109

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Century TheaterĀ© San Francisco CA...Don Lewis

Viewing: Photo | Street View

The Larkin Theater opened in 1916, but didn’t gain importance in San Francisco until the 1930’s when, together with the Clay Theater, it became a primary venue for foreign films.

By the 1950’s it had become so popular that long runs such as “Diabolique” and “La Dolce Vita” tied up its single screen for weeks and sometimes months at a time.

By the late-1970’s this was all over, it was renamed the Century Theater, and became an adult venue, and as such continues to prosper today as the New Century Theater.

Contributed by tillmany

Recent comments (view all 9 comments)

scottfavareille on July 1, 2002 at 3:17 pm

Walter Reade theaters ran this & the nearby Music Hall theater until they went bankrupt in 1978. The Mitchell Brothers bought out the lease (to pre-empt Walnut Properties dba Pussycat Theaters from becoming competition to their nearby O'Farrell theater) and the Larkin showed porn from 1978-1979. Then the Mitchells turned it into a short lived revival house, then it became a gay porn theater. Now it is the New Century.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on June 18, 2005 at 12:56 am

A while after it had opened in New York in August of 1947, Vittorio De Sica’s film “Shoe Shine” played at the Larkin for eight weeks. That shattering neo-realist movie about the aftermath of World War II and life in a boys' prison was distributed at the time by Lopert Films, Inc.

Gerald A. DeLuca
Gerald A. DeLuca on July 14, 2005 at 12:51 am

I saw Bernardo Bertolucci’s Before the Revolution for the umteenth time here in June, 1973.

DonLewis on August 3, 2006 at 3:13 pm

My photograph of the CENTURY View link

Rodney on March 17, 2007 at 2:10 pm

Is this theater still showing gay films, and is it a members only cinema?

kencmcintyre on June 13, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Blurb in the LA Times, dated 3/3/78:

The Mitchell Brothers, Artie & Jim, will give the San Francisco Larkin Theater six months to fare well as a straight movie house, with foreign classics and short experimental films slated on the bill of fare. Otherwise, the former porno house will “go gay hardcore”.

kencmcintyre on December 13, 2008 at 10:38 am

From Boxoffice magazine, May 1950:

“The Titan” in its third week at the Larkin Theater, San Francisco, is being exploited by Quinten Lacey, exploiteer from United Artists.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 6, 2012 at 9:54 pm

A document prepared for the NRHP says that this theater was designed by architect William Knowles. This was probably William F. Knowles, who practiced in San Francisco early in the 20th century, but as the document doesn’t specify, I suppose there is a slight possibility that it refers to the much younger William K. Knowles as the architect of a later remodeling.

The document, which is a bit ambiguous, appears to indicate that there was a theater at this location as early as 1914, that the Larkin Theatre operated as a movie house from 1920 to 1962, and that it began operating as the Century Theatre in 1980. It doesn’t offer any clues as to what went on between 1962 and 1980. A document about the Uptown Tenderloin Historic District prepared for the NRHP mentions the Larkin as a live theater that was in operation by 1915.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 6, 2012 at 10:03 pm

It looks like the NRHP document got the date of the Larkin’s conversion to movies wrong. An item in the March 18, 1916, issue of The Moving Picture World said that the Larkin Theatre, which had been closed for some time, had been remodeled and would open as “…a first class moving picture house….” under the direction of Charles Goodwin, former operator of the Elite Theatre.

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