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from the landmark theaters website: "...one of the oldest theatres in San Francisco. Built in 1910 by the Naify brothers, builders of the first movie screen in town, the New Fillmore, the Clay was first a nickelodeon house. In April of 1935, Herbert Rosener reopened the Clay as The Clay International, a foreign film showcase. In the early 1970s, the theatre was part of the Surf Theatres group, run by pioneering San Francisco film exhibitor Mel Novikoff. In 1972, the Clay hosted the first midnight movie in San Francisco with the premiere of John Water's Pink Flamingos, and also hosted many other controversial films, including The Life of Brian." According to sfgov, the structure at this address was built 1913: http://gispubweb.sfgov.org/website/sfparcel/showlotinfo.asp?LotIDValue=0630002
Those little art-house neighborhood theaters sure are dropping like flies.
The latest victim is the Clay on Fillmore Street in San Francisco, which has been open for 100 years.
In the early days, movies were five cents and there was no sound. The theater managed to adapt over time, showing foreign films, hosting midnight movies, and upgrading the equipment. But there's no competing with the Internet when it comes to distribution, and in the end, Landmark Theaters just couldn't figure out how to turn a profit.
For their final show on Saturday Aug .28, the Clay will host a tearful Rocky Horror Picture Show screening -- an appropriate tribute to the theater's heyday, when people actually participated in fun activities in the presence of other human beings rather than in the presence of electronic furniture, with their hands perched claw-like on WASD. Will local Rocky Horror theater troupe the Baudy Castle be in attendance? It wouldn't be the same without them.
These are dark days for the single-screen movie palaces of the Bay Area. The Parkway Theater in Oakland closed last year. The Coronet on Geary, once home to San Francisco's exclusive screening of a new movie called Star Wars, has been torn down and turned into a retirement home -- again, a tribute to the theater's heyday, though perhaps unintentional.
We hate to even bring it up, but could a similar fate await the Castro Theater? Probably not -- just last week, they packed 1,400 screaming fans into a full house for a screening of Showgirls. As long as the Castro enjoys heavy foot-traffic, access to transit, and a keen understanding of their neighborhood, they'll be okay. We hope.