20 August, 2009

The Single Screen

I had the opportunity to see a movie at the wonderful Vogue Theatre the other day (no mystery as to the title, see above). It's been a few years since I've ventured up to ol' Sacramento Street just to see a picture. The theatre was built in 1912 as the Rex, was re-opened as the Vogue in 1939 and was recently purchased and renovated by the San Francisco Neighborhood Theatre Foundation. It had been threatened with closure. The experience got me thinking about movie theatres in San Francisco (it's not too difficult to get me to stray onto that subject) and the death of the single screen. I'm sure there are young'uns who have no idea that movie houses, at one time, only had one screen. We're lucky enough to have a few of the old places left; the Vogue, of course, the Castro, Bridge, Clay, Roxie (the Little Roxie is a recent addition, but it's in a building next door to the original)and the Red Vic. With the exception of the Castro, they're all relatively small houses. Still, it's remarkable that they've survived TV, VCRs, DVDs, Netflix, OnDemand, video games and the multiplex. A small miracle occurred this past weekend when a NEW single screen cinema opened as part of the NEW PEOPLE J-Pop center in Japan Town. It's called the Viz Cinema and promises to book a steady schedule of Japanese language films.
Back to the Vogue; in 1984 it had a run of the South African film, "The Gods Must Be Crazy" that lasted 70 weeks! Management and staff were driven insane (I knew several of them and you'd be insane too, having to put up with that film for 5 shows a day, everyday, for well over a year) and the neighborhood rejoiced the day the film closed.

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