Stonestown Twin

501 Buckingham Way,
San Francisco, CA 94132

Unfavorite 7 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 26 comments

SethLewis
SethLewis on September 7, 2015 at 10:54 am

Was taken there with a group to see Trog with Joan Crawford when I was 12/13…a treat to see that it’s still up and running

Bud K
Bud K on June 21, 2014 at 12:08 am

June 2014, Last evening I visited the Stonestown Twin and watched the delightful “Chef” I was taken back to to the 70’s for the style of the building and thought wow this what the Famous Cinema150’s looked like in there day and what a treat, the staff was friendly and one of the first thing I noticed the Lobby was Lighted and very clean for a Theater over 40 years old, in walking into the theater, It’s smell was distinctive not offensive you knew you were in a old theater, seats were also showing there age but still comfortable, You also knew immediately this theater was cut in half due to the positions of the seats and screen, But thinking wow would this be a special theater today if it was still one, The sound had a slight Echo very reminisce of these older cinema’s, I enjoyed the Movie it was great but I also enjoyed this theater for it’s good and bad, it is a “gem” I am sure you will not see the army of folks to try to safe once it is decided to close it but for now it is a Cinema Treasure to “Treasure” while it is still here, I encourage you to Give it a Visit…….

CSWalczak
CSWalczak on June 7, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Not really; it is very similar to a number of pavilion-like buildings like banks, some college campus buildings, and other theaters built in that late 1960s-1970s period. It reminds me of some of the architecture at the New York World’s Fair of 1964-65. Its actually a smaller version of a design that UA used for some of its D-150 theaters such as the one in Santa Clara. View link.

I am surprised that this theater has survived; many, if not most twins of this era are either gone or converted to something else. I would have thought that a larger multiplex would have replaced it at Stonestown long before now, and there should have been an opportunity when the mall got that big makeover over a decade ago.There was a failed big box space near the Emporium, whoops, Macy’s end of the mall that might have been a space suited to conversion.

Giles
Giles on June 7, 2012 at 11:03 pm

and apparently it’s changing over from 35mm to digital projection next week – what an odd looking theater.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on February 7, 2011 at 11:55 pm

Didn’t change the Seats,sounds like a nightmare to watch a movie,Money must have been the reason.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 22, 2009 at 7:25 am

Contradicting claims above (and at CinemaTour and other web sites) that the U.A. Stonestown opened in 1971, Boxoffice Magazine’s issue of November 23, 1970, announced that United Artists had recently opened its Stonestown Cinema with the inaugural attraction “The Owl and the Pussycat.”

Also, in the earliest references it’s always called the UA Stonestown Cinema, not UA Stonestown Theater. Starting in 1974 it is called the UA Stonestown Twin, as it was until recently. For some reason, the Regal Cinemas web site now lists it merely as the Stonestown Twin, and the Fandango page to which Regal links for show times lists it with the oddly redundant name UA Stonestown Twin 2.

terrywade
terrywade on August 24, 2007 at 5:45 am

Eric******Thanks for the info on the Vogue. Iam glad it is still open. The UA/Regal Stonestown will take to much $$ to fix up, Regal won’t spend the money. They are almost out of San Francisco.

Eric
Eric on August 23, 2007 at 7:07 am

The SF Theatre Foundation just bought the Vogue and will operate it as Peerless Entertainment. Maybe they can save this theatre too…

I know for a fact the sound systems here are neglected and not maintained or calibrated. They had DTS sound installed in the past and since they are reduced to showing the worst art house fare they can get, most of these films probably do not come with DTS disks to play. Therefore, you’re probably hearing backup analog sound off of the film.

Yeah, I’d really like to see another operator take this theatre over. Reposition the seats, re-align the isles to the sides, not down the center, and get rid of the advertising. Some nice blue or red screen lights (like at the Lumiere) would be nice.

terrywade
terrywade on August 19, 2007 at 7:21 am

John***Check out the SF Cron today they have the Vogue listed under new management. Opening Aug 24 2007. No UA/REGAL logo. Do you know what is going on?

tarantex
tarantex on August 18, 2007 at 6:19 pm

no they still operate the Vogue! They will dump this one as soon the high rent lease is up with the Mall. I believe that is 2010.

terrywade
terrywade on August 18, 2007 at 6:17 pm

Thank God they have left most of San Francisco. The UA circuit in the last few years in SF ran their theatres in not the best ways. You can go to the same art movie in San Jose and hear the surrounds from time to time. The UA Stonestown is a chop up house. It’s days are numbered. I think when the lease runs out with the Stonestown people they are out of San Francisco. Once a great circuit in the 50’s they got money hungrey in the 60’s and 70’s and did the big cut job on their big houses. I am surprised they did’t go for a 4 plex at the UA Stonestown. The manager told me many years ago they keep the surrounds low because you can hear them in the next theatre. Many people just stay home and they can turn up or down their Dolby Digital sound system the way they want as the UA Stonestown sits empty. Good place to go for Halloween look for the dust on top of the surround speakers and cobwebs up high. They are real! The UA/Regal Stonestown now books any thing that they can get not just art films.

mcmikecroaro
mcmikecroaro on August 18, 2007 at 5:39 pm

This theatre shows only arthouse films. They very often have understated soundtracks. Sometimes patrons mistaken this subtleness as the sound system and/or surrounds “not working”. Want loud blaring sound….go to a hollywood film.
“Watch out a spider may come down on your popcorn” – how ridiculous!

On another note, as of 8/17/07 this is now the last UA theatre in San Francisco. Their once great presence is over.

terrywade
terrywade on August 10, 2007 at 3:58 am

Last time I went last year I looked up at the ceiling. It was full of cobwebs. Watch out a spider may come down on your popcorn. The surround speakers are never up full. I was told by a cranky manager that if they turned them up they will be heard in the next theatre. I will pass on this UA dump.

Eric
Eric on May 15, 2006 at 3:34 pm

Wow, drove by Saturday and saw the new sign all lit up very bright. I bet the mall paid for it. LOL.

Eric
Eric on April 28, 2006 at 4:38 pm

Oh, is that what they’re doing to the sign? I figured it had been vandalized and they just left it like that (typical Regal).

mcmikecroaro
mcmikecroaro on April 26, 2006 at 1:37 am

Greetings Everyone:

Yes the staff is very friendly and the place is kept very clean. UA should have torn out the angled ornamental wall at the front so as to open the screen horizontally for scope. Let us not forget the huge (and free) parking lot!

Meanwhile UA continues to upgrade the theatre. They are presently refurbishing the 19th Avenue roadside marquee with new faceplates. The old ones had yellowed from age. Lets hope the trend is continued.

Mike

Jason Whyte
Jason Whyte on April 16, 2006 at 4:04 pm

Hi Eric,

I have seen those pictures on the CT site (I know you from film-tech as well as your other posts of San Francisco cinemas) and I saw “Brokeback Mountain” on the opposite (left) cinema than the one pictured. Simply hold up a mirror to that shot and it gives you the idea of what it looks like. I poked my head into the other cinema for a moment and it was a true mirrored cinema. Sometimes twin-plexes will have a larger cinema than the other, but not in this case.

All of those movies you mentioned are all scope 2.39 films, so I guess you would have had to sit in the third or fourth row to get a good view! I am also surprised that Lucas would consider this a place to screen SW:Ep1. The DTS and analog sound aren’t very good, the image bleeds on all four corners of the screen and they need to turn the ceiling lights down further for the feature (on dark scenes it is dim in there and you notice the lights rather quickly).

I also forgot in the first post to mention a few things I liked about the place: the lobby is gorgeous, there is no annoying automation present (the lights stayed down for most of the credits), the staff were very nice and it was spotless when I visited. You can tell the people running the place do like to take care of it. Would be nice to upgrade the screen and projection first, and then the position of those seats. ;)

(Note: I also visited the Daly City 20 and made a comment on here; also a nice place to see a movie. Hopefully on my next visit I will check out some other SF landmarks.)

Eric
Eric on April 16, 2006 at 3:30 pm

Hi Jason,

The only photos I’ve come across are the theatre in it’s current state on Cinematour at:
http://www.cinematour.com/tour.php?db=us&id=2933

Believe it or not, this used to be one of the premire big blockbuster theatres in The City. When Star Wars Episode 1 came out Lucas wanted it shown only in the best, most choice theatres in the country. This one qualified at the time.

Saw many big hits here over the years. Fight Club, Nurse Betty, Moulin Rouge, Space Cowboys, to name a few. In 2002 the new Century 20 down the street opened, and this turned art house. I think the biggest crowds they’ve ever seen here since 2002 was for Brokeback Mountain. (And this was an awful place to show it.)

And yes, for scope 2.35:1 films they bring down the top masking and shrink the screen down even further…

Many General Cinema locations were ‘twinned’ in this manner as well.

Jason Whyte
Jason Whyte on April 16, 2006 at 3:06 pm

(Sorry, got cut off) Does anyone have pictures of the original auditorium? I’m sure it was a nice place to see a movie. But I’m sure more fans of indie-fare will flock down to the Embarcadero or the Balboa rather than this place.

Jason Whyte
Jason Whyte on April 16, 2006 at 3:03 pm

What a bizarre theatre. I was here on vacation in December ‘05 when “Brokeback Mountain” was here on both twinned auditoriums. The twinned-plex is far too narrow and the screens are small even at 1.85 common width. (Imagine watching a scope movie there on even smaller of a screen!) And as Eric Hooper mentioned, the (still comfy) seats were not rearranged so watching your movie with your head constantly turned was annoying.

(With that said, my dad and I watched the film in seats right behind some wheelchair spots, so the ample legroom was great! All that was missing were stools.)

DTS sound is also installed, although since this is an art house, most of the films will probably be in Dolby Stereo.

I guess it survives as a art-house double now. I can’t imagine seeing a big-budget movie in this place.

Does anyone have pictures

timquan
timquan on July 27, 2004 at 5:37 am

Regal got rid of the Metro Center after Century Theatres opened a new multiplex in Daly City, about a mile north of Colma. This new multiplex is a mile and a half south of Stonestown Galleria.

Eric
Eric on May 25, 2004 at 8:50 pm

I recall hearing that UA wanted to build a megaplex on the site and/or in the large parking lot there, but the surrounding neighborhood of homes was ferociously opposed to it and they didn’t get approval to do it.

Interesting that Regal is spending money on the place…at a time when all of their other theatres in SF are for sale, and they were so quick to get rid of their Metro Center Colma location. First new carpet, and now new paint? I wonder if they’ll install new seats that actually face the screen?

bruceanthony
bruceanthony on May 25, 2004 at 9:15 am

I saw “Whats UP Doc?” at the UA Cinema when it was a single screen in 1972. It doesn’t work that great as a twin so I never went back. Im surprised that its still operating since it was a UA house in the Stonestown Mall. Im surprised they haven’t built a megaplex since its a mall location.brucec

mcmikecroaro
mcmikecroaro on May 25, 2004 at 4:23 am

Hi Folks: Just a quick update. In the last few weeks the exterior of the theatre received a new coat on paint. Also painted were the various guard rails in the front of the theatre and the light posts. The theatre has a nice new clean look to it.

Best regards,

Mike Croaro

mcmikecroaro
mcmikecroaro on February 20, 2004 at 11:47 pm

The San Francisco Chronicle shows the theatre opening in 1971 as the “UA Cinema”. In early November 1973 the theatre closed and was twinned in just 1 week. It reopened at the “UA Stonestown Twin”. As Eric and Steve have mentioned the seating was never re-arranged so the sightlines are somewhat unusual. New carpeting was installed in late in 2003 and it is a great improvement over the decades old orange (yes orange!) carpet.