Claudia Lehan, one of four collective members who own and run San Francisco’s Red Vic Movie House, tells me the theater is in serious financial trouble and is in danger of closing. Lehan says a slow-and-steady decline in attendance has finally reached a critical point and that she is not sure how much longer the theater can continue, characterizing its operations as “month-to-month.” The theater has a large amount of debt, she says.

Lehan attributes the drop in audience to the financial downturn and the rise of Netflix and other digital movie-delivery options.

Opened in 1980, the Red Vic is one of the few single-screen revival houses left in the city. Lehan is putting out a general call for assistance, financial and otherwise, and is hoping that the San Francisco film community will rally around the theater to stave off that last Haight Street picture show. So far, she says, response has been good.

I wish I could remember all the films that I myself have seen at the Red Vic since moving here in 1990. The one that immediately comes to mind is The 5000 Fingers of Dr. T, a C-movie technicolor fantasy extravaganza, featuring song lyrics by Dr. Seuss, that has to be seen to be believed.

The Red Vic was also the first place that I ever tried nutritional yeast on popcorn, which at the time seemed like the most exotic food combination I’d ever sampled.

We’ll keep you updated on any progess or lack thereof…


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks writes mostly on film for KQED Arts. He is also an online editor and writer for KQED's daily news blog, News Fix. Jon is a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S.

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