Clay Theatre

2261 Fillmore Street,
San Francisco, CA 94115

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Showing 1 - 25 of 36 comments

stevenj on February 16, 2020 at 10:53 am

If it is indeed demolished, probably housing. A non profit, the SF Theatre Foundation, which oversees the Vogue and Balboa, is injecting over $1million into the Opera Plaza and in a recent link mentioned on that theatre’s Cinema Treasures page mentions possibly trying to save the Clay also. From that link:

“Meanwhile, the foundation is in talks to save another neighborhood theater: the Clay Theater in Pacific Heights, which ceased operations this month. Jim Herbert said his group is hoping to “help restore and preserve this cultural treasure for the benefit of future generations.”

Add to that list of pre WW1 theaters still operating in SF the Roxie (1909 or 1912) on 16th St in the Mission District:


bigjoe59 on February 15, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Hello From NYC-

it seems developers in S.F. don’t have anymore love for historic theater buildings than developers in NYC. the Clay is a small theater how can the lot be used for development?

also at least S.F. has something neither NYC or L.A. have.
2 movie theaters build before the advent of WW I. the Vogue
and the 4 Star.

stevenj on January 25, 2020 at 8:42 am

Tomorrow, Jan 26th is the last day for the Clay Theatre. From the SF Chronicle this morning:


Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 18, 2020 at 7:19 pm

Jack Tillmany’s Theatres of San Francisco gives a somewhat different (and possibly more accurate) history of the Clay Theatre than we have at this time. It says that the house opened as the Regent Theatre in 1914, was renamed Avalon Theatre in 1931, and became the Clay International Theatre, an art house, on April 11, 1935.

However, it appears that the name Clay Theatre was adopted before the name Clay International. A May 6, 1935 article uploaded to this theater’s photo page by Mike Rivest says that “Herbert Rosener… has taken the Clay Theatre on Fillmore at Clay, changed its name to the Clay-International, and will use it as an exhibition place for outstanding films of European origin.”

I’ve been unable to discover the year the name Clay Theatre was first used, or the year when the addition “International” was dropped. An ad indicates that it had returned to being simply the Clay Theatre by February, 1941.

davepring on January 18, 2020 at 3:32 am

And another fine city cinema bites the dust because of development greed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 17, 2020 at 4:19 pm

The staff at the Clay Theatre have been informed that the house will close on January 26. The landlord is rumored to have plans that might include demolishing the venerable theater.

rivest266 on July 31, 2018 at 11:24 am

Opened as Clay on April 10th, 1935. Small ad uploaded.

bobster1985 on May 4, 2015 at 2:32 pm

The Clay Theater is still operating. I walked by there today, May 4, 2015.

Mikeyisirish on August 5, 2012 at 7:30 pm

A few July 2012 photos can be seen here and here.

milanp on December 30, 2010 at 8:44 am

I discovered the Clay by accident while exploring the streets of San Francisco one July afternoon a few summers back. It’s the sort of funky, friendly neighborhood theater I remember from my childhood. How nice to see that a few of them still exist today!

jph on August 29, 2010 at 10:00 pm

Was at the Clay today expecting it to be the final show. I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived to see a note in the box office saying they were pleased to NOT be closing today. There were reps from the SFFS (San Francisco Film Society) handing out leaflets and letters to the landlord in front of the theatre. There also seemed to be some news and video crews there, at least in the afternoon after the first showing. The early matinee was about 2/3 full, and audience members seemed relieved to hear of the theatre’s current status.

The Clay is charming with much character – hope something can be worked out! It does seem like multiple parties are aware of the theatre’s status, which could be beneficial in the long run.

CSWalczak on August 29, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Good news! Landmark has worked out a short-term agreement with the theater’s landlord, and until something more definitive can be determined, will remain open, at least for the time being: View link

CSWalczak on August 22, 2010 at 9:13 pm

An article about the Clay’s closing; apparently The San Francisco Film Society is interested in keeping the Clay running, but the theater’s owner is not taking their proposal seriously: View link

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on August 13, 2010 at 4:41 pm

It would be the kind of theatre Woody Allen would shoot in a movie.Sorry to hear it is gone.

thomasgladysz on August 13, 2010 at 9:52 am

An article on the Clay – View link

Michael on August 12, 2010 at 8:30 am

It is with heavy hearts we announce that The CLAY Theatre will be closing at the end of August. It is a dark day for San Francisco theatre lovers. Built in 1910 and closing in 2010 100 years of film history comes to a end. The CLAY played host to many film festivals and special events over the years. On closing weekend The CLAY will host one more Rocky Horror, and The Cast is putting on a funeral for the theatre. I have loved my years working at The CLAY, and will miss it! Rumors have it that a condo project will destroy the theatre. Let’s hope not.

thomasgladysz on September 9, 2009 at 10:00 pm

As far as I can tell, in the 1920’s, the Clay Theatre was known as the Regent.

According to both an August 15, 1926 newspaper listing which I have for “The American Venus” (starring the current Miss America and local celebrity Fay Lanphier), as well as a 1927 San Francisco phone book listing for movie theatres, the Regent was located at 2251 Fillmore. Curiously, that address is slightly different from the Clay’s current address, 2261 Fillmore.

kencmcintyre on August 18, 2009 at 11:25 pm

Here is a 1970 photo that is currently being advertised on eBay:

Aerick on March 23, 2008 at 7:31 pm

It’s funny, you never fully realize the details on buildings until you are no longer able to see them daily. I used to frequent the Clay all the time, since it was practiccally the only place to see French language films back then, and other more obscure films.

I think my first film seen here was in the early 80s, it was Isabelle Huppert and Miou Miou in “Entre Nous”. I’ve seen many many films here up until Amelie, when I left San Francisco.

I remember the seats not too comfy, and the site line was on the flat side, but it was cozy, the concession had hot tea and it was just a great place to see a movie, and lose yourself in another culture and language.

Long live the Clay!

terrywade on September 26, 2007 at 9:09 pm

Watch out if you go to a matinee this week at the Clay in SF. Went to see the Jane Austin film at a Monday matinee. The movie had a buzz saw or chain saw sound coming from behind the theatre screen. I wanted to leave; it was too bad they didn’t put a note at the boxoffice telling you construction was going on outside the back of the cinema. I had to stay as my friends wanted to watch the film with the bad sound. No surround sound from the side speakers and little seperation from the small screen speakers. A bad day at Landmarks Clay. Good film, bad presentation. The best thing was my egg salad sandwich across the street at Johnny Rocket’s!

kencmcintyre on September 2, 2007 at 1:43 pm

I’m having lunch across the street from the Clay. Features are “This is England” and “The Big Lebowski”.