We’ve written about the financial travails of San Francisco’s Red Vic Movie House a couple of times before, and now it looks like the end is finally near.
The Vic’s current calendar runs through July 25, which coincidentally marks the end of the theater’s 30th year. Claudia Lehan, one of four members who run the movie house as a co-op, says it will “probably close” after that, barring a sudden infusion of cash.
“We’re near the end,” Lehan said. “We sure don’t want to close but we’re financially strapped. We’re hoping for a miracle. But it’s not looking good. It’s quite a loss for us personally and for San Francisco. It’s a great San Francisco institution. I’m happy and grateful to have been a part of it for so long.”
The Vic is one of the remaining retro houses in the city. The Roxie, in the Mission, was in similar straits years ago but managed to survive several near-death experiences.
Red Vic staff had been hoping fundraising events would help close the financial gap. And while members of the film community did step up, Lehan said, it just wasn’t enough to save the theater.
“There needs to be a voice for local films and for independent films,” she said. “But there needs to be a way to bankroll it. There has definitely been a lot of good will, but the economy’s really bad and there’s still not a whole lot of money out there. We need George Lucas or Pixar or somebody really big to step in and we haven’t found them yet. Or they haven’t found us.”
So on July 25 the theater will probably end its long run, with a showing of Harold and Maude.
But before then, the Vic will show a film that has relevance to its own situation. Paperback Dreams chronicles the troubles of another much-lamented and moribund outlet for media: the independent bookstore. (Update 11:32 a.m. Turns out KQED Public TV was a co-producer of this.) The film follows the owners of Cody’s Books in Berkeley, now defunct, and Kepler’s in Menlo Park “over the course of two tumultuous years in the book business.” A panel discussion with the director and the co-owners of local San Francisco bookstores Booksmith and Green Apple will follow.