Traditional repertory theaters fading; film festivals gaining

posted by CSWalczak on July 23, 2010 at 7:38 am

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — In the 1970’s, repertory theaters reached a peak, but now there are much fewer of them and they struggle to get 35mm prints of films. But the survivors are increasingly succeeding by promoting themed film festivals, and programmers are creating new festivals that, as temporary events, use a variety of venues.

At the Roxie, for example, a sampling includes the Anti-Corporate Film Festival, the Irish Film Festival and Another Hole in the Head horror festival. Mr. Leggat sees the growth in number and variety of festivals as part of a larger picture.

“American culture is moving from mass entertainment to more specific niche entertainment,” he said.

This recent article in the New York Times took a look at this trend in the San Francisco Bay area.

Comments (7)

LawMann on July 23, 2010 at 9:47 am

During the 70’s in Los Angeles us projectionists used to call these ‘revival houses’. Anyone remember?

ChasSmith on July 23, 2010 at 11:38 am

As an avid moviegoer in L.A. in the 70s and 80s, I’m pretty sure that ‘revival house’ is how my friends and I always referred to them.

It’s almost heartbreaking to recall what was available there in those years.

William on July 23, 2010 at 12:45 pm

In the Los Angeles market during that time there was a great selection of revival houses. We all use the term Revival houses only the studios and the trades called them Repertory houses. If you had to call the studio you were directed to their repertory department. I still have the movie calendar/schedule box from the front of the Fox Venice Theatre.

Nuart (West Los Angeles)
Fox Venice (Venice)
Tiffany (West Hollywood)
Vista (Los Angeles)
Vagabond (Los Angeles)
Continental/Encore (Los Angeles)
Pan Andreas (West Los Angeles)
Rialto (South Pasadena)
Sherman (Sherman Oaks)

EvanJChase on July 25, 2010 at 6:38 am

In our area we are doing well with classics on theatre screens. The secret is using high quality digital transfers of old movies and high quality professional-grade digital projection. It’s difficult to get good 35mm prints of classics any more, and the film companies will gladly book classic titles and you supply the regular or blu-ray dvd.

We have gorgeous sharp, bright projection—and no huge expense of shipping heavy film cans back and forth. Like it or not, at the rate many theatres are converting, film will be a thing of the past.

Simon Overton
Simon Overton on July 25, 2010 at 9:35 am

I totally agree with the above statements and my sentiments are with you… and “Yes”, those WERE the days… NOT any more!

terrywade on July 26, 2010 at 11:10 am

The Roxie in SF just remodled with a new stereo system, new rugs & seats but a bad problem shows up on the screen during the pre show trailers. A overhead lamp over the first 5 rows of seats shines on the lower part of the scrren so all the images are washed out by this light. I looked for a manager last week and there was none to found. They just need to put a small filter on the bottom of the light so the screen stays in the dark. I hope they will bring back the blue/red side lights in the theatre in place of boring white light bulbs now on. Good luck to the Roxie San Francisco that finally after all these years has STEREO! Watch for the new doc ‘American Grindhouse’ that they played last week.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 29, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I always hate to hear the truth,“film will be a thing of the past” I worked in a time that as much as i hated carrying film cans up to the booth for the projectionist I felt i had something in my hand,Clint Eastwood’s latest western,Woody Allen’s comedies or a bio-pic.what do they do now have put in a envolpe and mail it to you,No film cans,No going up to the booth a picking up clips from a movie cut by a projectionist,no looking at the film can and see all the different movies that had used those cans. I was a booth the other day and the movie came in a cardboard BOX.Glad I got out of the business in 1983.

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