Sunday, April 10, 2011

Trouble for the Roxie, Red Vic and Castro

In the past month or so, there have been several articles in various publications detailing problems with the Roxie, Red Vic and Castro theaters.

The Red Vic has been in financial straits for some time. I think I became aware of it last year. They've held a number of fundraising events. The next one will be a Midnites for Maniacs auction and secret screening on April 30 at 7:30 PM.

The latest article on the Red Vic's struggles appeared in the March 23 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle. KQED reported on the theater's troubles in December. I also remember listening to a KQED broadcast (Forum with Michael Krasny?) which included discussion about the Red Vic's trouble. That was around the time it was announced the Landmark Clay would be closing. Speaking of which, I haven't heard anything about the San Francisco Film Society's plans to buy or lease the Clay for year-around programming. However many months ago that was, the Clay is still in daily operation.

The Red Vic has begun selling patron memberships. According to their Myspace blog,

Support the Red Vic! Please consider becoming a Patron. We, of course, appreciate donations at any level. We ask that you consider donating at one of the support levels listed below:

$100 - Twelve Free Passes and a Patron Card
$250 - A 3-Month Pass and a Patron Card
$500 - A 6-Month Pass and a Patron Card
$1,000 - A 1-Year Pass and a Patron Card
$5,000 – Private screening and golden (bottomless) popcorn bowl
$10,000 - Let's talk!

Please do not mail cash. Make checks out to Red Vic Movie House and mail along with your name & return address to: Red Vic Movie House, 1727 Haight St., S.F., CA 94117. Thank you!

Or, we have set up a Pay Pal account for donations:

The Red Vic is a collective. I'm not sure what that means in terms of legal ownership or structure but they are definitely not a non-profit organization so donations are not tax deductible. However, the Red Vic has partnered with the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation which owns the Vogue Theater. Again from their Myspace blog,

For tax deductible donations, you can make a check out to our fiscal sponsor, the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, and note in the memo line: For the Red Vic Movie House.

Mail to:
Red Vic Movie House
1727 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA 94117


The prolonged nature of the Red Vic's trouble reminds me of the Roxie's trouble a few years ago. The were constantly hanging on by the skin of their teeth. I recall Nicholas Cage donated a sizable amount in appreciation for the Roxie screening and releasing Red Rock West (1993) which revived his career. Within a few years, the Roxie was back in trouble. I can't remember the changes in ownership. They were owned for awhile by the now defunct New College of California. I think someone else owned them before they reorganized under their current non-profit structure.

The Roxie seems to be doing much better financially. What bothers me about the Roxie is the state of their Mission District neighborhood. Apparently after years of peace, a gang war has erupted in the Mission over the past year. In March, I read that five men were shot at 11 PM on Monday night in the 3000 block of 16th Street. El Tin Tan's "front door was riddled by bullets, and gunfire shattered the glass front door of the Pancho Villa Taqueria next door."

That sent a chill down my spine. I walk past the El Tin Tan bar from 16th Street BART whenever I go to the Roxie. I've dined at Pancho Villa Taqueria. Not only that but I like to go to the Roxie on Monday nights because they offer reduced price admission. If I catch a 9 PM show, I would be walking on the 3000 block of 16th Street at around 11 PM on my way back to BART. That incident was a little too close for comfort.

Earlier this week, the Misison Local published an article called The Mission’s 10 Most Dangerous Blocks. The 2nd most dangerous block was 16th Street between Mission and Valencia. That's the block where El Tin Tan, Pancho Villa Taqueria and the previously mentioned shooting occurred or in onther words, the block I have to walk through to get to the Roxie. The most dangerous block is Mission between 16th and 17th which is where the 16th Street BART station exit and entrance is. Basically, I have to traverse the two most dangerous blocks in the Mission to go to the Roxie.

I'll have my opportunity to take a walk on the wild side because SF Indiefest has announced the dates of its 2011 Hole in the Head Film Festival. It'll be June 2 to 16 at the Roxie Theater. All things considered, I'd rather be on 2nd Street in San Jose.


Also in March, the San Francisco Examiner ran an article reporting the reduced schedule at the Castro Theater.

The article referred to the fact that the Castro was only running films five days per week in April (Mondays & Tuesdays will be dark). I've noticed the Castro always has 3 to 5 days per month which it doesn't screen films. I thought it was to perform maintenance, cleaning and/or for private events. The Castro is closed 8 days in April which is more than one quarter of the time. That does seem ominous.

“It’s not a financial move, it’s a management move in terms of making sure we have the best product available for people to see,” Nasser said, adding that he’s not sure when the Castro will go back to seven days per week. “It will vary from month to month.”

Nasser is Don Nasser, owner and operator of the Castro. “It’s not a financial move, it’s a management move...” What does that mean? Mr. Nasser seems to have worked in management consulting prior to operating the Castro Theater because he has the doublespeak down to pat.

I think the Castro is in the least precarious position of the three theaters. Without the Castro, San Francisco film festivals would not havea a venue for their opening and closing night films if not their entire festival (Noir City & Silent Film Festival).

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