The Castro Theatre needs your help!
Urgent: Take action by Monday, April 17!
The "Land Use Committee" is hearing the Castro Theatre case on Monday, April 17, 2023. If you want to see the Castro Theatre stay open and get badly-needed restoration and upgrades, you MUST use our email tool below to tell the committee you want it!
In addition, you should call in to the commission meeting which starts at 1:30pm (public comment will start a bit later). If you sign the petition we will email you with details when they are available.
After years of declining ticket sales and deferred maintenance, the Castro Theatre is in need of repairs and a new strategy to avoid bankruptcy. Another Planet Entertainment, the folks who bring the beloved Outside Lands to San Francisco every year, have a plan to invest $15 million to restore the theatre and bring fantastic new live shows to the Castro.
But the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is threatening to shut down the theatre entirely. They think the Castro Theatre should be locked in the past and remain a hardly-used movie theatre, not available for live performances, and not be upgraded to provide better access for disabled customers. They think San Francisco’s best days are behind us, rather than ahead.
"I don't see any reason why we can't have our cake and eat it too and run the joint as a film operation [...] Otherwise, the supervisors may come to a decision APE wouldn't like"
"You guys work out the terms and then we can get back into the issue around the seats," Peskin said. "I don't know how much it costs to run a movie theater but I don't think it's that expensive [...] Don't be yelling at me when this whole deal tanks," Peskin wryly added. "Just saying."
— Supervisor Aaron Peskin in the Bay Area Reporter
The Castro Theatre needs your help! If you want it to become a dynamic, exciting, and even-more-valued venue in the Castro, then we need to upgrade: new seats, new accessible wheelchair ramps, air filters & circulation, a restored original ceiling, new restrooms (including gender-neutral restrooms!), and exciting live events!
Sign our petition to demand that the Board of Supervisors say YES to change, YES to upgrades, YES to fun, and YES to the Castro Theatre!
1. Sign the petition
2. Email your Supervisor
Email your Representatives!
Make your voice heard, it matters.
Make the change happen here!
Why will the theatre shut down if the upgrades can’t be made?
Simply put: it costs too much to run a 1,400 seat movie theatre without modern amenities. Think about it: when is the last time you went to see a movie? Did you pick the comfiest seats with the highest resolution projector, or did you pick a 100 year old building with uncomfortable seats that only shows old art films?
The most in-demand movie theatres are small (under 200 seats) with comfy reclining seats, great screens, and great food and drink. The Castro Theatre can’t offer any of that with its current design. And because it can’t fill even half of the seats, it runs at a loss. Eventually, the owners will run out of money and close it. Don’t let the Castro Theatre become another Cine Latino, which closed and sat vacant for 30 years on Mission Street, before ultimately being demolished.
What upgrades will be made?
The ceiling is in dire need of repair. It was last refinished in the 1980s and the polyurethane they used is now falling apart and parts of the ceiling are falling onto the seats below. The basement leaks horribly, and when it rains the basement floods under the stage (and we've been having PLENTY of rain lately).
Another Planet Entertainment will refinish the ceiling with the help of world-class architectural restoration firms, bringing it back to its original beauty and fix the leaks.
In addition, they will build a backstage for artists (yep, there's currently no backstage!), add a new accessible wheelchair ramp, install HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) which the space currently lacks, upgrade the bathrooms (including accessible stalls).
The new HVAC system won't just ensure the space is adequately heated and cooled, it will also filter the air to improve air quality and reduce the risk of mold and viral spread.
The biggest change will be the reconfiguration of the seats. Rather than seats bolted to the floor on a steep incline (twice as steep as the Americans with Disability Act allows), the seats will be removeble and placed on flat tiers which people who use wheelchairs or have other disabilities can easily access with the new accessible ramp. Chairs can be removed to make space for wheelchairs or other mobility devices.
Take a look at the current seats (left/top) and the new seats (right/bottom):
Here's what the theatre will look like with the new seats. Pretty nice, right?
You can learn more about all of the renovation plans on the Castro Theatre website.
Will the Castro Theatre retain its LGBTQ roots?
Absolutely! Another Planet Entertainment employs tons of people who identify as LGBTQ+, and is committed to hosting, fostering, and growing its LGBTQ+ entertainment program. From queer plays to live music by queer artists to drag shows, the roots of the Castro community will stay strong and continue to grow acceptance and power.
Why are some people trying to stop the upgrades?
A few loud activists are trying to get something for nothing, but ultimately we’ll all end up with nothing if they win. They want free use of the theatre to keep it as an under-used movie theatre for half of the year. This is so uneconomical that the operator of the theatre says they will literally have to close down if they’re forced to do this. Then we all lose.
Some groups are trying to extract money from the theatre operators by threatening lawsuits and slow permit approvals unless the operators “donate” the theatre to their group. It is, essentially, an extortion racket. They don’t care if the theatre will succeed or fail, they just want it frozen in time.
Some people are saying the changes will eliminate queer culture
We’ve seen people say this, too, and it doesn’t make sense. The operators of the Castro Theatre are committed to LGBTQ+ programming. All they’re doing is upgrading the building and adding live shows. Movies are important to queer culture, but there is more to queer culture than just movies. Concerts are also an important apart of queer culture, and we can have both! The Castro Theatre should be able to celebrate all types of entertainment including standing concerts where people can dance.
We think this is backwards-thinking fear-mongering from people who are scared of all changes. This conservative thinking hurts the queer community, entrepreneurs, and San Francisco.
I heard the seats are historic and should be preserved
This is one of the weirder lines the anti-change activists are using. But the truth is that these seats were replaced in 2001 — they're only 22 years old! Yes, you read right: they're trying to landmark 22 year old seats! There's a time and place for historic preservation (like for the facade of the theatre), but saving seats barely old enough to drink is not it.
Do you think these 22 year old seats are worthy of historic preservation, should never be touched, and should prevent modern usage of the theatre?