Coronet Theatre Will Close On Feb 10th

posted by JimC on February 4, 2005 at 5:12 am

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Earlier this week, the staff of the Coronet was told that the theater would be closing its'doors forever on Feb 10, 2005. The Coronet, which opened in 1949, has been operated by United Artists since some time in the late 1980’s or early 90’s.

According to the San Francisco Examiner, in 2000, the owners of the building sold it to The Goldman Institute On Aging, who plan to tear it down and construct a senior citizens center on the site. The 1,200-seat Coronet is one of the last single-screen 70mm movie houses (with good sound and projectionst) to actually to run 70mm prints on a regular basis. There are one or two other single screen SF movie houses with 70mm capibility- -but they haven’t run 70mm in years.

JimC/San Francisco

Theaters in this post

Comments (34)

Hibi on February 4, 2005 at 6:36 am

What a great loss. :(

br91975 on February 4, 2005 at 6:56 am

A great loss indeed. The one blessing is Mayor Newsom doing what he can to fight and preserve the other remaining single-screen theatres in San Francisco. Most film venues in danger of closing don’t have as powerful an advocate on their side and, as heartbreaking as the imminent demolition of the Coronet is, at least the Metro and Cinema 21 have a chance of being saved. (I have to admit curiosity on one front – wasn’t the Presidio just recently converted into a quad? According to the article, there’s a rumor floating about its closing within a year; sounds a bit peculiar, given the circumstances.)

RobertR on February 4, 2005 at 6:59 am

This is a sad day for movies.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on February 5, 2005 at 4:48 am

Why are cities still knocking down these movie houses? Haven’t they learned the lessons from all those towns who knocked them down decades ago and wish they had them back? Or the cities who DIDN’T knock them down and are so glad that they didn’t?

scottfavareille on February 5, 2005 at 10:27 am

Several comments: The SF Chronicle yesterday mentioned the closing of the Coronet will be on the 13th. It is sad that they couldn’t wait for the last Star Wars film to open there in May.(All of the Star Wars films played at the Coronet in their original runs)

With regards to the Presidio—Frank Lee(operator) signed a 30 year lease and I don’t think it will close very soon. The original aduitorium was converted into a three-plex plus a 4th screen was added off of the auditorium. His 4-Star is slated to close soon, however, as a church(who now owns the building) wants to turn the 4-Star into a church. Lee also recently signed a lease for the Cinema 21 and plans to reopen it as a theater!

davepring on February 7, 2005 at 11:17 am

Speaking from London I am appalled that this amazing venue is closing. When working in SF in the mid 90s I spent many happy evenings at the Coronet…one of the few movie showplaces on the west coast.

kgclement on February 7, 2005 at 12:17 pm

This is very sad. I’ve contiued to hope for more extensions each time I see a new posting on the marquee. If only they had waited for the final Star Wars! Couldn’t believe that the last Harry Potter and Spiderman 2 were scheduled elsewhere. They just weren’t the same on a smaller screen! I guess they were trying to get us used to missing the Coronet. I am glad to be able to see a great movie here for the last feature. I may have to keep going back till that last sad day. It will be a great loss!

Patsy on February 7, 2005 at 1:04 pm

Yes, another sad story which seems to ‘come with the territory’ when visiting this cinema site. And all in the name of progress! :–(

Patsy on February 7, 2005 at 1:04 pm

Don’t senior citizens of SF like to see old movies?

Eric on February 7, 2005 at 1:49 pm

Ironically, the Alexandria theatre down the street closed on the same weekend exactly one year ago…

jstrain on February 7, 2005 at 1:56 pm

I mourn with the rest of you. This is where I saw Star Wars, Grease, American Gigolo, 9 to 5, Yentle, and any number of films throughout the years. (I went to Roosevelt Middle School across the street; the Coronet was equal partner in my education.)

Ironic, is it not, that the Coronet is being turned into a home for the aged? After all, individual, “single screen” theatres are regarded as dinosaurs in a world of multi-screen MegaPlexes.

Can it be any surprise then that, in the world of Corporate monsters, individual losses continue to mount?

John M. Strain

Patsy on February 7, 2005 at 2:46 pm

John: Well said and I ditto your thoughts!

Patsy on February 7, 2005 at 2:48 pm

And I view multi-screen, mega-plexes as door # l, door #2, door #3, etc. They simply have NO charm, but then again what does today’s youth know about….charm! :–(

Patsy on February 7, 2005 at 2:49 pm

So Feb. 10th will NOT be a grand day for us theatre buffs! :–(

libbyhelen on February 9, 2005 at 9:13 am

PLEASE CONTACT ME if you want to SAVE THE CORONET! Despite what you have read, there is a slim chance to save this theater from being razed. The proposed housing project has NOT been approved by the Planning Commission. Our neighborhood association (Francisco Heights Civic Asso., directly behind the theater) is not taking this lying down. THis battle has just begun.

Patsy on February 9, 2005 at 9:53 am

LibbyHelen: My hat is off to you and your neighborhood association for NOT taking this lying down. In the end, whatever happens you’ll know that you fought and fought hard! The best of luck to you!

JimC on February 9, 2005 at 10:35 am

I appreciate your enthusiasm and applaud your spirit in trying to save The Coronet. I by no means mean wish to discourage you from your efforts.

But there are some harsh realities:

>The Goldman institiute on Aging has owned the building since 2000.

> Planning commission or no planning commission, the Goldman Institute has informed the the present “tenant” of the building (UA) that they MUST be out by the end of the month.

>I’m not an expert on this, but I beleive the planning commission only has jurisdiction over something being built- – such as the proposed apartments. It has no jurisdiction over the demolition of the building. The “landmarks commission” has jurisdiction over demolitions and The Coronet, as much as I wish it were otherwise, does not have landmark status. I’ve heard this point of view from several sources and they could be wrong. I don’t pretend to be an expert in planning, demolition or city government, but the the “mission statement” on the SF Planning Commission Website seems to support the position of the the people who expressed this opinion to me.

> Over the past several days non-essential items and equipment not necessary for opeation between now & Sunday have already started being removed from the theatre & projection booth. I personally saw several boxes of these items late last night (Tuesday) as they were being moved into another theatre.

>In a recent SF Chronicle story The Goldman Institute made some comment about the buidling being razed by the end of the year. According to contacts I have who work at the Coronet, they say that Goldman has told them that they’d like to start tearing it down ASAP – – possibly as early as next month- so they don’t have to continue paying tax and insurance on the building.

I wish it were some other way- – and miracles do occasionally happen, but I think THE CORONET is toast. But don’t let me discourage you! Good Luck!


libbyhelen on February 9, 2005 at 2:01 pm

Dear Jim,
I wish I could talk to you directly. You’ve made (unwittingly, I think) several erroneous assumptions about the future of the theater. The IOA CANNOT tear down the theater without the EIR process being finished, and THAT process has only just begun. The project has NOT been approved by the Planning Department. This issue is FAR from over. This is NOT just wishful thinking on my part. PLEASE email me @ .Thanks,

AlGarcia on February 9, 2005 at 4:48 pm

Not sure if anyone has pointed this out yet, but the last day for the Coronet is this Sunday, February 13. The last screening (million Dollar Baby) will take place at 10 p.m. This was confirmed by management from both the Coronet and the nearby Metro Theatre. Would anyone be interested in possibly a meet up for the last showing? Possibly dinner at the nearby Mel’s at 8 p.m. and then to the Coronet at 10 p.m.? Just a thought.

jstrain on February 10, 2005 at 8:30 am

A good thought, Al! If I weren’t in LA, I’d take you up on that offer, though I have seen Million Dollar Baby already.

This said, I hope you, and others reading these postings, will read what Libby offers above—and join her in the struggle.

We may win, we may not, but, again, how appropriate that the “last” movie at the Coronet is about a fighter. I think this is a cause getting in the ring about, not throwing in the towel just yet.

John S.

libbyhelen on February 10, 2005 at 9:02 am

Thank you for the support, John. People! Call me! This is not an idle, far-fetched campaign. THere is a real chance to save this theater.

JimC on February 11, 2005 at 7:33 pm

For those who have not already heard- – THE CORONET has received a mini-repreive. Apparantly the current film (Million Dollar Baby)is doing well enough that the theatre will remain open for at least another week, and possibly until the end of February.
But probably not much beyond that. The projection equipment, seats, concession equipment and other theatre fixtures have already been sold off and are scheduled to be removed ASAP after “the last show”– – whenever that is.

Henrybaca on February 12, 2005 at 6:11 pm

Remember The Alhambra Theatre in Sacramento. A lost that so many are hurting about. Don’t let this happen. I lived in S.F. , I went to the Coronet to see Star Wars!!! Waited two hours in line being entertained by those lovely S.F. characters. Is the Alhambra Theatre in Polk still there?

JimC on February 12, 2005 at 6:25 pm

The ALHAMBRA is listed elsewhere on this web site, but to answer your question- – The ALHAMBRA was twinned, then un-twinned and then eventually closed and remained vacant for awhile. It was eventually converted to a helalth club/gym. So the building is still there and the exterior looks more or less the same, but the interior has undergone major remodling.

ANTKNEE on February 13, 2005 at 6:54 am

Just heard on the news this very moment that tonight’s 10pm showing of Million Dollar Baby will be the last show. 6:54 am 2/13/05

stevenj on February 13, 2005 at 7:11 pm

Went to the 3:45 matinee this afternoon. The projectionist came down to the front of the auditorium and gave a short history of the theatre then told the audience that Million Dollar Baby would be the last film shown there and that the closing date would be in the next “couple of weeks”.

BAustin on February 13, 2005 at 8:20 pm

The Coronet is not closing February 13 as stated several times on Chanel 7 news today. Who misinformed Chanel 7 and why. We need to get the word out the theater is still open for business. I talked with several people in front of the theater an hour ago, there is a lot of false information flying around.The building connot be demolished until an environmental review takes place. By law nothing may be removed from the premises I believe until this is complete. The proposed project has not been approved and permits have not been issued to date. The first step is the enviromental review which is in progress now. We still have time to preserve this piece of history. WE NEED YOUR HELP
If you wish to help preserve this theater please write a letter to Michelle Missenger at the state office of historic preservation stating the value of the art deco moderne style and the cultural history ie. Star Wars of the Coronet.
Her email is:
Thanks for your help.

JimC on February 14, 2005 at 8:29 am

I hate to always come off sounding so cynical, but I have very little faith in San Francisco City government. There are so many ways to beat the system. One look at the history of decisions made by the Planning Dept and it’s pretty obvious that if you “grease the right wheels” you can get anything done.

Here’s an example that I witnessed first hand:
I once worked for a very large corporation that had been doing business in SF since the late 1800’s. They own at least half-a-dozen or more buildings throughout The City and the East Bay. If they wanted to do something, they “just did it”. And if they violated some regulation, they paid the fine. They just saw it as a cost of doing business. And because they were violating “regulations” and not “laws” nobody would go to jail or suffer any consequences. In the long run they found it was cheaper to just “pay the fine” than to deal with all of the paperwork, lawyers and bureaucracy of The City Government. And if The City gave them too much static about it- -they’d just threaten to pack up and move their business elsewhere, thus depriving The City of millions of dollars in tax revenue and putting thousands of people out of work. So they pretty much could do whatever they wanted.

Case in point: About 15 years ago they wanted to tear down one of their old buildings in SF and replace it with a new one. They knew the building had potential historical significance, but they didn’t want to have any “problems” with the neighborhood preservationists.
So here’s what they did:
First, they moved everyone out of the building and into their other offices.
Next they had the water and electric service to the building turned off.
Then they hired a bunch of those illegal-immigrant day workers that stand on street corners in South City looking for work to come into the building with sledgehammers.
They smashed holes in the walls. They smashed all the sinks and toilets in all the restrooms. They ripped out a lot of the electrical wiring and plumbing. They also smashed holes in the walls of and removed the doors from the emergency fire stairways. They also ripped out pieces of the fire sprinkler system.

The company then went to The City and declared the building “uninhabitable” and brought in a building inspector. Because the fire stairs and sprinkler system had been compromised the inspector declared the building “a safety hazard” and the company had no problem tearing it down. I’ve since heard that they used this tactic more than once, but I don’t know the other buildings involved.

The Goldman Institute On Aging has a lot of political political clout in this city. I have no doubt that they know how to “play the game” and who to shmooze and that if they want the building to come down, it will come down. Planning Department approval or not. It’s unfortunate but “that’s politics” and life in the the big city.

libbyhelen on February 14, 2005 at 10:34 am

To paraphrase the Unsinkable Molly Brown, “The Coronet ain’t down yet!”. Call your district supervisor – let them know this is a big issue, and deserves review. Write letters. Raise Hell. The demolition is NOT a foregone conclusion. Saving single-screen theaters is akin to the weather. It seems everyone TALKS about it, but no one DOES anything about it. It’s time to change all that. THere’s good reason to be skeptical, but reason to be optimistic, as well.

BAustin on February 14, 2005 at 2:04 pm

Jim, I agree with many of your perceptions of city politics, fortunately the law is on our side, and if we have to enforce it we will; the first concern is they not destroy the building. You could really help by placing a few phone calls or emails or do you just like to complain, it appears you know your way around city hall and planning
Thanks for the help

EJD1984 on February 18, 2005 at 6:16 am

Has anyone in the Bay area considered contacting Lucasfilm? I’m sure they know that the Coronet is the only theater that has shown ALL of the Star Wars films (and know of the theater’s closing).

Maybe a a flood of emails (or quick online petetion) to see if Lucasfilm would be willing to workout some kind of arrangement with the new owners to show the last Star Wars film at the Coronet. I’m not a huge S.W. fan, but at least this would let the theater go out in style/class with some unique history added.

libbyhelen on February 18, 2005 at 10:43 am

In fact, I sent Lucas a letter last week, but haven’t received a response. I’ll let you know if I hear anything. In the meantime, send me an email (see address above), and I’ll put you on the CORONET Update list.

FoxFan on February 26, 2005 at 2:56 pm


You must login before making a comment.

New Comment