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Author Topic: Pix Theatre San Francisco CA
Terry Monohan
Master Film Handler

Posts: 308
From: San Francisco CA USA
Registered: May 2014


 - posted 08-26-2018 11:13 AM      Profile for Terry Monohan   Email Terry Monohan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
We were walking past the former Pix B movie theatre on Market ST yesterday in San Francisco Aug 25 2018 and I went back in time for a few minutes to the 1960's. This former 3 feature small B movie theatre with a great little neon marquee had been a Radio Shack on the right side and a Subway place on the left for many years. Now the Subway is gone and both spaces are for lease. The two rental stores only took up the first part of this small cinema. With only 1/2 block from the crowded Powell St tourist cable cars and Bart station this former movie theatre space would be a goldmine for some small theatre owner to move in that wants to have fun and make some money. Time to put back the Pix and run showing 3 classic action or comedy movies with old trailers,cartoons ect. Run as a retro DCP Grindhouse. The locals that missed the Grindhouse experience and visiting tourists from all over the world will want to stop in. There are no single screen movie theatres left on Market ST in SF. It had under 300 seats but I am sure you can get a good lease from the Graystone building owners. Hire the old timers that can have the outfits from the 1940's and the attitude to match. Q Tarantino needs to take over the spot. If I only was younger and had the money to re open this classic B movie theatre.

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Paul Linfesty
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1381
From: Bakersfield, CA, USA
Registered: Nov 1999


 - posted 08-26-2018 03:50 PM      Profile for Paul Linfesty   Email Paul Linfesty   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I cannot even imagine this to be successful in today's market. Are you suggesting there is any remnant of the theatre left? Was this building even originally built as a theatre? I can't see tourists spending 6 hours to see a movie in what used to be referred to as "shooting gallery" theatres. And SF natives aren't interested in this kind of theatre, either. The industry is rapidly changing. (I'll even bet the owners will be looking for tenants that can pay much higher rents than this theatre could pay.

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Terry Monohan
Master Film Handler

Posts: 308
From: San Francisco CA USA
Registered: May 2014


 - posted 08-26-2018 08:35 PM      Profile for Terry Monohan   Email Terry Monohan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paul thanks for your comments. I think bringing back something that is not around anymore will make It with the proper retro programming. The tourists visiting SF are not going to sit in for 6 hours but will see one or 2 movies at best. It's not about what is playing on the marquee It is creating a environment on the inside. The people working the Grindhouse Pix will not be your high school popcorn people but older adults with some sort of showmanship,talent and attitude to create something you won't find in a boring circuit multiplex. Show some of the old tease candy trailers, action camp movies ect plus midnight shows,things you can't find anymore. I have two out of town theatre owners looking over the place next week. Lets see what happens. It was a store before they turned it into a 280 seat theatre in 1946 so It can be turned back into time. I looked a few years ago on the missing tiles of the right side Radio Shack store and you could see the original ceiling of the old Pix. Just seeing the classic marquee re created in neon will bring in the curious. The bathrooms were in the basement downstairs and small lobby. I think they are still there. Not good for handicap movie goers these days. I wonder If you could even get a SF permit to put the theatre back in? This Pix Theatre former spot is so crowded with tourists they have time and money to burn. It's like a mini NY Times Square. Thousands wait next door to ride the expensive SF Cable Cars. A block away the area is still seedy but coming up. The original Pix had a middle aisle and six seats on either side. I am told by Jack Tillmaney my friend It even has a decent size scope screen at the far end. Id put in a main curtain with plenty of color lights and a kick ass stereo system. Even though most of the old Grindhouse films would be mono you can buy some amp things now to turn mono into stereo and they sound ok.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12492
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-26-2018 08:53 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When we go on vacation with friends, I've suggested going to a movie many times....they NEVER want to go.

I'd suggest anybody looking into this to check around similar sized cities and see if there is a similar type operation going on, find out if it's a moneymaker, and go from there.

I do think there would be problems from the get-go if the bathrooms are in the basement, unless they could get around it by going the "historic building/historic use" route. And re-creating the neon marquee will be a costly project all by itself, not to mention expensive to maintain. (I know from this last point, I just spent $2000 in repairs to our marquee.)

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Terry Monohan
Master Film Handler

Posts: 308
From: San Francisco CA USA
Registered: May 2014


 - posted 08-27-2018 02:39 PM      Profile for Terry Monohan   Email Terry Monohan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Mike I will warn people when they ask. I plan to go inside with them next week with the lease people and see what is left behind the fake store fronts and take some photos and check out the size of the downstairs. Jack Tillmany the guy who wrote the popular San Francisco Theatres book has some great stories to tell about the Pix Theatre. I guess It had a projection booth above the Radio Shack Store ceiling?

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Martin Brooks
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 820
From: Forest Hills, NY, USA
Registered: May 2002


 - posted 08-28-2018 06:20 PM      Profile for Martin Brooks   Author's Homepage   Email Martin Brooks   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I sincerely doubt in today's home video market that a theater can be viable showing retro films. Even current films don't actually do that well. I've posted this before, but AMC averages just 92 tickets per day, per screen. If there's an average of 4 shows per day, that's just 23 tickets per show, per screen.

While there are places like the Film Forum in NYC in which some of the screens are dedicated to retro films, that theater is funded with sources other than ticket sales.

Someone who has spent a lot of money to visit San Francisco is not going to sit in a movie theater to watch an old film they can stream at home for no incremental cost. And where are the prints coming from? Do you intend to show film or DCP or DVD/Blu-ray?

All IMDO, of course. (D="dumb")

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12492
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-28-2018 11:16 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
To elaborate on what I said above about friends not wanting to go to movies while on vacation -- they always follow that up with "We can go to movies anytime." Of course *we* like to go to movies while on vacation since we're not "working" and we can actually sit and enjoy the show. (Although I still tend to pick apart the presentation, if it deserves picking.)

The question of "product" is very valid, too. For example Disney usually doesn't book their old stuff theatrically, and of course they own a huge chunk of the old movies people might like to see.

This project might have a better chance as an "art" or independent venue rather than a "retro" one. Some acquaintances of ours built a single screen art/indie theater in an old clothing store in Billings, with a wine/beer bar included, and they're going gangbusters to the point they're thinking of expanding to three screens and moving to a larger building.

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Martin McCaffery
Film God

Posts: 2375
From: Montgomery, AL
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-29-2018 09:13 AM      Profile for Martin McCaffery   Author's Homepage   Email Martin McCaffery   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Terry Monohan
this former movie theatre space would be a goldmine for some small theatre owner
There are no goldmines is small theatre spaces. If you are lucky you'll get a coal mine - something you can extract some money from before the market completely disappears.

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Leo Enticknap
Film God

Posts: 7130
From: Loma Linda, CA
Registered: Jul 2000


 - posted 08-29-2018 11:29 AM      Profile for Leo Enticknap   Author's Homepage   Email Leo Enticknap   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As others have pointed out, most arthouse, repertory and archival programming theaters only derive a small proportion of their operating costs from ticket sales. In the case of the organization I worked for from 2014-17 (which operates two of these venues), it was 501(c) nonprofit that funded itself from ticket sales, concession sales, private rentals, grants, philanthropic donations, the sale of professional and consultancy services, etc. etc. Like art galleries and opera, it simply isn't possible to operate a venue like this as a straight for-profit movie theater, especially you have the maintenance of an historic building to pay for, as well.

This is why such theaters are often found on college campuses, or as part of arts centers that do live stage shows, exhibitions, classical music and that sort of stuff, as well as arthouse cinema. A university will often provide core funding for such a place because of the kudos and bragging rights it brings, and grants and planned giving are much easier to get your hands on if you do other art forms as well as just movies.

As for tourists, agreed that moviegoing is not an obvious thing to do on vacation. I only would if the theater was unusually interesting (e.g. an historic building) or I really wanted to see the movie and was unable to at home. But there again, I'm probably unusual: the whole point of going on vacation is to do things you don't get to do 51 weeks of the year, and as I work in movie theaters for a living, I am not like most of the population.

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Mark Ogden
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 887
From: Little Falls, N.J.
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-29-2018 11:39 AM      Profile for Mark Ogden   Email Mark Ogden   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If it gives you any encouragement, Terry, I went to a double feature of King Kong vs. Godzilla and Mothra at the Balboa on Sunday. [Smile]

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Terry Monohan
Master Film Handler

Posts: 308
From: San Francisco CA USA
Registered: May 2014


 - posted 08-31-2018 10:46 AM      Profile for Terry Monohan   Email Terry Monohan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks guys for all your notes. I think the best bet for anyone to open a small Grindhouse Theatre on Market St in SF would be the former Crest Theatre. The Pix Theatre site will be costly with permits ect. The Crest Cinema now a girl club called 'Crazy Horse', It is located to the right of the former still open music palace Fox Warfield Theatre. They have torn everything down around It and has seating for over 30O plus. Put a Grindhouse type of cinema in just like they were on Market St in the 1950's and create the look and feel of those type of campy cinemas. I don't know how much longer the lease is for the girls to show their stuff at the Crazy Horse? If someone with cash to spend and likes these type of long gone old downtown theatres this may be the spot to kick the runway ladies out and bring back the Grindhouse experience for a new generation to enjoy. With DCP not film you can show some great attractions on the screen mixed with old action/horror ect trailers plus intermission snips. Bring in the walk in street crowd with a nice old looking neon marquee with interesting wording ect. Everyone here is negative about this project but I think It would work. SF has not one B movie or second run cinema these days. Not even a $1 Theatre. The booking of films would be from the 1950's and 1960's plus a occasional special Grindhouse Festival like they do at the former Cinerama Hollywood Theatre in Portland OR that is very popular with the young and old. Cinema Treasures site under San Francisco has photos of the Crazy Horse former Crest with what It looked like many years ago and photos of It now in 2018 with everything torn down behind It on one side. I can't believe the now live porn theatre It is still standing so someone must think It has some future value.

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Mike Blakesley
Film God

Posts: 12492
From: Forsyth, Montana
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 08-31-2018 12:26 PM      Profile for Mike Blakesley   Author's Homepage   Email Mike Blakesley   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Terry Monohan
SF has not one B movie or second run cinema these days. Not even a $1 Theatre.
And why do you think that is?

If it was a really great idea, SOMEbody in a town the size of San Francisco would be doing it already. I don't know anything about the "scene" in that city but just my professional guess is it would be a niche market at best.

Billings, MT (largest city in the state) used to have a discount theater owned by Carmike; they closed it. It was later sold to a guy who was going to run...you guessed it, second-run, classic, and "family" films. It lasted about a year and then closed due to lack of business. Billings isn't a big city but it still has a drawing area of nearly 200,000 people.

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Frank Cox
Film God

Posts: 2016
From: Melville Saskatchewan Canada
Registered: Apr 2011


 - posted 08-31-2018 02:02 PM      Profile for Frank Cox   Author's Homepage   Email Frank Cox   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Have you considered doing it yourself? You're doing a bunch of research and legwork now so why not got the final step and actually proceed with the project on your own?

You obviously have a great interest in cinemas so why not set up one of your own?

That's how I got into it. A friend of mine was running a movie theatre in the town that I used to live in. I got tired of the job that I had back then I decided that I wanted a theatre of my own so I found a town that didn't have a movie theatre and made one.

It was kind of scary to just jump in and start doing, but it's worked out well.

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 8353
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004


 - posted 09-07-2018 03:59 AM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Simple goal to hit: is to find out a way to pocket a 20% profit during the busy days you have the doors open - after all expenses are paid.

Good luck in your venture.

Monte

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