San Francisco’s Castro Theatre Marks 100th Birthday with Week of Classic Films
June 3 – 12 Curated by Decade
Wednesday, June 22 Celebrates the Centennial with Day of Movies Filmed in San Francisco
Annual LGBTQ Frameline Film Festival Returns June 16 – 26
13 May 2022 – San Francisco. 100 years ago next month, San Francisco’s Nasser family opened the Castro Theatre: an event that came to define an era and a neighborhood. A century on, it is the longest continually family owned movie palace in the United States. To mark the occasion, the Nasser Family in partnership with Another Planet Entertainment (www.apeconcerts.com) is scheduling a week of film screenings featuring iconic movies from each decade of the Castro’s history, June 3 – 12, some family and children’s programming and a “Happy Birthday” special event on June 22 – the actual date of the Castro’s opening day in 1922 — with movies filmed in San Francisco. Concurrent with the centennial celebrations, the LGBTQ Frameline Film Festival will return after a two-year hiatus.
“It continues to be my family’s honor and privilege to own the Castro Theatre,” said Steve Nasser, of Bay Properties, Inc. “After two years of COVID-forced closures, it is such a joy and a pleasure to reopen and to work with the very best, and most sensitive local producers around, Another Planet Entertainment.” Steve Nasser and Elaine Nasser Padian are the third generation of this family to lead the company, founded by their grandfather Abraham and his sons having conceived and constructed the Castro Theatre in 1922.
“The Castro is much more than a theatre,” said Mary Conde, Senior Vice President for Another Planet who oversees the overall Castro Theatre Project. “An LGBTQ touchstone, a film-lovers icon, a community landmark and an architectural gem, the Castro is unique. Another Planet is honored to restore, renovate and revitalize the Castro as a home to everything we’ve come to love about the Castro, and expand its audience.”
Tickets for the special week of screenings are $16 weekdays and $18 weekend with the morning youth programming at $10/adult $6/youth up to age 12 and may be purchased online starting May 13 at 9am at https://apeconcerts.com/
While there are no vaccine or masking requirements for entry, all attendees are encouraged to have been fully vaccinated and boosted. Masking and adherence to social distancing and proper hygiene protocols are strongly encouraged.
Another Planet Entertainment is partnering with Bay Properties, Inc., owners of the Castro Theatre, on an evolution and preservation of San Francisco’s world-renowned entertainment and LGBTQ community landmark. With a long-standing history of working to preserve and improve historic buildings such as the Fox Theater in Oakland, the Greek Theatre in Berkeley and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, Another Planet seeks to enhance the Castro Theatre by implementing significant improvements to the sound, lighting, production, HVAC, ADA access and the theatre’s trademark marquee, among other facets of the building: all of this, always, with an eye to honoring its unique place in the lives of the Castro and celebrating its communities and residents.
The Castro Theatre was built in 1922 by pioneer San Francisco theatre entrepreneurs, the Nasser brothers, who started with a nickelodeon in 1908 in the Castro neighborhood. The Castro was designed by then-unknown architect Timothy Pflueger, who later designed the Paramount Theatre, the Pacific Cost Stock Exchange, the Pacific Telephone Building and the Top of the Mark on Nob Hill. Timothy Pflueger chose an exterior design reminiscent of a Mexican cathedral. The large windows, the shape of the roof line of the front wall of the building and the plaster wall decorations all combine to convey a look of grandeur in keeping with the large scale of many theatres built in the 1920s. Sound was installed in 1928. The marquee and the vertical neon sign are additions from the late 1930s, but the glazed tile street foyer, ornate tent-like box office and the wooden doors are all from the early 1922.
The Castro’s interior is very diverse. One can sense Spanish, Asian and Italian influences. The auditorium seats over 1400 in a fantasy setting that is both lavish and intimate. Both side walls of the auditorium are covered with classic motif murals which were created in a wet plaster process called scrafitto. This type of wall decoration is rare. On either side of the stage and screen (the small original screen has long ago been replaced with a large screen) are large organ grills. The Art Deco chandelier dates from 1937 when a small electrical fire destroyed the original parchment fixture. It is one of the few remaining movie palaces from the 1920s that has been in continuous operation under same family ownership.
See the special film screening schedule for the Castro 100th Birthday here.
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