Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Sad Sequel:
Castro Theater Dark 8-Nights in August

[Greetings, visitors from SFist and SF Curbed! Please be sure to read my post about the latest developments in reclaiming the rainbow flag and pole at the city-owned Harvey Milk Plaza for the public. Thanks for stopping by. -michael]

Back in the spring, I blogged about how the iconic Castro movie palace would be closed for eight-nights in April and expressed my concern for the viability of the theater, given the larger context of San Francisco losing or about to lose other theaters. Since then, there's been good and bad news on this front.

First, the good news. The Landmark-operated Clay theater, which the landlord wanted to shutter, has a new lease on life and continues to show films. Sources have told me the landlord and art house chain came to an agreement over the lease, and there is no more talk about closing the Clay.

Another positive development was the San Francisco International Film Festival signing a contract with the New People Cinema in Japantown, taking over the under-used venue. Starting on September 2, the SFIFF will be offering daily programming there and they recently announced the inaugural film will be Jean-Luc Godard's latest work "Film Socialisme", sure to ignite a few debates about the French master director.

The bad news is that the Red Vic up in the Haight has gone out of business. "Harold and Maude" was the last movie to play there, a perennial favorite. We also received the news that the twin-screen Balboa theater is closing its doors at the end of summer. It's the same sad old story. Not enough folks getting out of the house and catching a movie at their local theater.

In the not-so-good-news category, there's a sad sequel this month at the Castro theater. Just as in April, the Castro will be closed every Monday and Tuesday night during August for a total of eight evenings when there will be one less reason to visit the neighborhood.

When was the last time you saw a flick there? I caught three films at the Castro in July, I'm happy to say. I attended the silent and Jewish film festivals, and was pleased that at all three films the house was packed with people in both the orchestra and balcony.

Speaking of July at the Castro, did you know it was closed five-nights last month? See the calendar below. That's certainly a smaller number of dark evenings than in April and August, but I'm still greatly concerned that the audience for the theater is diminishing.

Please forget about Netflix once in a while and take in a movie at the Castro and all our other still-operating movie palaces.


Franco Marciano said...

Love this theater. Enjoyed a great date night there during "Frameline", and looking forward to catching some Almodovar films there later this month. Watching a film at one of these older art house theaters is really a sort magical experience that more people should try.

On a related note, an article in TriBeca Film proposing a way to get more people into the theaters:

Unknown said...

hi franco,

i too am looking forward to catching those almodovar films again and at the great castro. let's hope those screening are packed full of his fans.

Anonymous said...

I see at least two films a month here - the last time was last Friday for "Mildred Pierce". The theatre was at least 3/4 full.

Unknown said...

happy to learn the theater had a good crowd for the joan crawford classic. my boyfriend last night caught 'the big sleep' at the castro and said there was a decent crowd for the 7 pm show. the best way to save and support the castro, and our other single screen venues, is simply go there and see movies up on the big screen.

Anonymous said...

On August 8, the Castro Theater hosted the SF Mayoral Debate. It wouldn't surprise me if some of the other dark nights in August are due to private events.

Additionally, the closure of the Balboa is not as final as you make it out to be. It has never been announced that the Balboa is closing. Gary Meyer is leaving but the staff has told me they are cautiously optimistic that the theater will remain open. In his newsletter last week, Meyer stated "I hope to announce later this month a really innovative plan that will be great for the theater, its fans and the city of San Francisco." My guess is that the SF Neighborhood Theater Foundation, which operates the Vogue on Sacramento, is interested in the Balboa.

Unknown said...

your points are well-taken and thanks for sharing the potential good news about the balboa. all my info about their problems and potential closing came from an article in the chronicle.

back when meyer was doing rep programming at the balboa, i frequently took the bus out there to catch things and did my part to support the theater during those times.

and as we all know from the many news accounts, the august 8 mayoral debate was packed to the rafters. happy to see the castro in use that night.