Guide to San Francisco Neighborhood Movie Theaters

Bridge Theatre (1939)
A small neighborhood theater with a big theater feel, the Bridge screens popular first-run independent films. The Bridge also features a special midnight film series on weekends that tends to include cult classics and typical midnight film fare. Operated by Landmark Theaters, the Bridge has undergone a recent renovation that included the replacement of all of the theater's seats.

Status: Secure

Clay Theatre
Located on Fillmore Street in upscale Pacific Heights, the Clay is one of the City’s oldest operating movie theaters. The Clay is operated by Landmark Theaters and screens predominantly first-run foreign language films in a fairly small but comfortable auditorium.

Status: Uncertain. Landmark is currently operating the Clay on a month to month lease. Another exhibitor, however, is reported to be interested in taking over the Clay.

Vogue Theatre
For many years the Vogue was one of the City's premiere venues for foreign and independent films. Woody Allen films enjoyed long runs at the Vogue and The Gods Must Be Crazy played the Vogue for over a year. Operated by United Artists/Regal, the Vogue now screens primarily mainstream first-run major studio films. Recent upgrades to the theatre's sound system have dramatically improved the filmgoing experience at this small neighborhood theater.

Status: Secure. The Vogue was purchased by the S.F. Neigborhood Theater Foundation and is being restored.

Empire Theatre
The Empire, previously the West Portal Theatre, is now operated by Century Theatres and screens first-run films. The theatre was recently remodelled and re-branded as a Century "Cinearts Theatre"that presents primarily art, independent and foreign films. The large original auditorium has been divided into a three screen complex with a large downstairs auditorium.

Status: Secure

Alexandria Theater (1923)
The three screen Alexandria Theatre is converted a neighborhood movie palace. Some of the grandeur of the original auditorium is still apparent in the large downstairs auditorium. The Alexandria was most recently operated by Regal/United Artists.

Status: Uncertain. The Alexandria closed in 2006 and remains vacant as developers make plans for the Theatre and adjacent parking lot. The developers have commited to preserving the Alexandria Theatre building and to retaining a theatre use within a portion of the historic theatre.

Roxie Cinema A 16th Street landmark for decades, the Roxie is the only regularly operating movie theatre in the Mission District. Screening and eclectic mix of art and independent film, the Roxie has a loyal following among serious filmgoers.

Status: The Roxie opened a new screening room, the "Little Roxie" in an adjacent storefront providing new flexibility in the programming of the 300-seat main auditorium. A string of popular political documentaries have been attracting large audiences to the Roxie recently.

Red Vic Movie House

The 22-year old Red Vic is a worker owned & operated 140-seat film house that occupies a retail space on Haight Street in the heart of the Haight Ashbury. The Red Vic publishes a seasonal calendar and screens a wide range of films including second-run Hollywood films, classics, off-beat classics, art, independent and documentary films.

Status: Secure

Castro Theatre (1922) The 1,500 Castro is the City's grandest operating movie palace. The theater was designed by renowned theatre architect Timothy Pflueger. The wonderfully ornate interior is topped by a dramatic Moorish tent ceiling. The building has recently undergone an extensive renovation that included replacement of hundreds of famously uncomfortable seats. The Castro hosts numerous film festivals including the San Francisco International Film Festival and screens a mix of art and independent films throughout the year.

Status: Secure

Presidio Theatre The mid-sized (500 seat) Presidio is a classic single-screen theatre that screens first-run Hollywood films. The theatre features stadium-style loge seating and recently inherited updated sound equipment from the nearby Cinema 21 Theatre when it closed in 2001. The Presidio was an adult film theatre for many years before being returned to a first-fun film venue in the 1980s. With it's recently improved sound system and big-screen, the Presidio is first rate venue for blockbuster films.

Status: Secure. 4-Star Theatre operator Frank Lee re-opened the Presidio with 4 screens in late 2004. Lee has maintained the large downstairs screen.

Metro Theatre

One of the City’s most beautiful neighborhood movie theaters, the Metro re-opened after extensive renovations in 1998. The newly restored, 700-seat theater features elegant murals on its lobby and interior walls and boasts the City’s largest traditional format screen.

Status: The Metro closed in 2008. Developers have announced plans to convert the theatre to an upscale gym while preserving much of the interior and retaining a portion of the historic theatre as a multi-purpose space that could be used for film presentations and live events.

One of the City's most modern neighborhood theatres, the Coronet was built just before television began to take it’s toll on the film exhibition industry. The theater features a massive auditorium with hundreds of stadium-style loge seats and one of the City's largest screens. The theatre has legendary local status as the San Francisco home to Star Wars.

Status: The Coronet closed in 2005 and has been demolished. The Institute on Aging has replaced the Coronet on Geary Boulevard.

Four Star A classic neighborhood cinema, the Four Star is operated by long-time local exhibitor Frank Lee. The Four Star recently added a second screening room and primarily screens popular second-run independent films. Lee also has numerous special weekend screenings of Asian action films.

Status: Frank Lee's lease at the 4-Star expires in May of 2005 and the property owners have refused to extend the lease.

Balboa Theatre

Landmark Theatres co-founder Gary Meyer runs the twin-screened Balboa which features double bills of critically acclaimed studio and independent films. The Balboa was one of many San Francisco theatres built by local theatre magnate Bud Levin. It remains one of the City's most charming neighborhood theaters and it's double features are the best movie deal in town.

Status: After falling into disrepair in the 90's Gary Meyer has turned the Balboa Theater around with great programming and numerous physical improvements to the theater. New carpet,new restrooms and freshly painted auditoriums have greatly improved the moviegoing experience at the Balboa. The lovingly restored lobby, filled with wonderful art deco detail, reminds patrons of why so many of still cherish the neighborhood theater experience.

New Mission Theatre

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the New Mission Theatre (1916) is one of San Francisco's most underappreciated and least-known landmarks. The ornate, 2,800-seat theatre was originally designed by the Reid Brothers and was later remodelled by Timothy Pflueger (architect of Oakland's Paramount Theatre). The theatre was closed in 1993 and is currently vacant, but the New Mission's prominent red marquee still looms large over Mission Street.

Status: The New Mission was owned by City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and was sold to Gus Murad who plans to redevelop the New Mission while also building housing on an adjacent site. Gus has committed to preserving the New Mission and returning it to active use as an entertainment venue.