Save Our Movie Theaters

This summer’s blockbuster movies are already showing up in theaters. Have you ever wanted to see a movie, but by the time you decide to go to your local theater, your movie of choice has been replaced with something else? This was not a problem in San Francisco in the 1960s.

The Balboa Theater, at 3630 Balboa near 38th Avenue, has been a movie theater since 1926. In the 1960s, big budget, popular movies would run for weeks and weeks. For example, according to local historian Jack Tillmany, “The Sound of Music” played for 92 weeks at the United Artists Theater on Market Street, for an “exclusive road show engagement.” Then the film moved to the neighborhood Balboa Theater for what was called an “exclusive sub-run” for five additional months, from December 25, 1966 to May 23, 1967.

Take a trip back to 1965 when this original movie trailer enticed audiences to see this classic film again and again:

As someone said, “they don’t make-um like that anymore.” That refers to the theaters and the films. To preserve what is left of a dying breed of neighborhood movie houses, the nonprofit San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation (SFNTF) has come to the rescue. According to the Web site, “With approximately a dozen theaters still operating, San Francisco is one of only a couple of American cities that retains a critical mass of neighborhood movie theaters.”

The organization has created a partnership to support the continued operations of the Vogue and Balboa Theaters. They also helped to preserve Cinema 21 on Chestnut Street and helped to gain “landmark status” for the New Mission Theater. For more info on the work of the SFNTF, check out

The support from the SFNTF allows the Balboa to screen all types of movies, including a locally produced documentary called, “Secret San Francisco: Adventures in History,” on May 14. Here is the trailer for that film:

For info on all of the programs at the Balboa Theater, check out

Best wishes,