Monday, July 16, 2012

Even at $3.50...

The second closest movie theater to my residence (in terms of distance) is the Stonestown Cinema operated by  Regal Cinemas.  I rarely go to the twin screen theater.  Largely showing films I don't want to see or occasionally films I have already seen, the theater does not program to my taste.  I credit them for trying.  They try to appeal to the large Filipino population in nearby Daly City by programming new Filipino films every three or four weeks.

Hidden away behind Stonestown Galleria, closer to Lake Merced than 19th Avenue, the theater sits in a huge parking lot which is always empty when I drive by or see a film there.  The parking lot serves as a sad reminder of better days.  I recall reading that Star Wars opened there to sellout crowds and a long run.

Opened as a single screen in 1970 (as single screen theaters were becoming passé), the original theater could seat approximately 1,000. Split down the middle to make the twin screens, the two auditoriums are long and narrow...and in need of some refurbishing.  I was surprised that the theater converted to digital according to Fandango.  However, I was not completely surprised when I received an email last week stating the previously full-price Stonestown Cinema was changing its admission policy to $3.50 for all screenings.

For their first week under this pricing schedule, the theater is screening Battleship and Dark Shadows - two films which are in second run theaters elsewhere.  In essence, the Stonestown has turned into a dollar theater but since everything costs more in San Francisco, they are charging $3.50.

I don't know what to say about that.  It's not as if the price was keeping me from going there and I'll doubt I'll go more frequently at $3.50 per ticket.  To be frank, I'm surprised the theater is still open.  I cannot believe it was profitable before or will be profitable at the new admission price.  It's been over a decade since I read about development plans for the plot of land now occupied by the theater and its parking lot.  As much I love going to the movies, I wish someone could develop the land and put it to better use.  I doubt there would be much public outcry like there was with the Red Vic or attempts to close the Vogue and 4 Star.


Speaking of the Red Vic, I read an article last week in the Half Moon Bay Review on its reopening.  Apparently, building owners Betsy & Jack Rix live in the HMB area.  They have yet to get the space rezoned to accommodate a "food hub."  Although I venture to the Haight Ashbury infrequently, I've been curious as to how the Red Vic would be repurposed.

July 25 will mark the one year anniversary of the closing of the Red Vic.  According to the article, the Rix are not planning on reopening until the end of this year.  That's a long time for the property to sit vacant...but it is San Francisco after all.

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