Castro Theatre

429 Castro Street,
San Francisco, CA 94114

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Castro Theatre

The Castro Theatre, situated at the corner of Castro Street and Market Street, is one of San Francisco’s most recognizable landmarks. This magnificent neighborhood theatre is decorated in the Spanish Renaissance style; with a Moorish Tent ceiling, Oriental Zodiac emblems, and Art Deco touches throughout. It was built by the Nasser Brothers and became the flagship theatre of their small circuit of neighborhood theatres. It was the first theatre to be designed by architect Timothy L. Pflueger.

Opened June 22, 1922 with Wallace Reid in “Across the Continent”. Waldemar Lind and the New Castro Orchestra and Carmichael at the Robert Morton pipe organ accompanied the movie. In 1937 a small fire damaged the auditorium, and Timothy L. Pflueger was brought back to redesign some damaged sections and design a new Art Deco style chandelier in the center of the auditorium celing. In 1950 the organ was replaced by a Conn organ, which, in around 1980 was replaced by a larger 3 manual 16 ranks Wurlitzer organ, the console of which was originally installed in 1925 in the the State (now Palms) Theatre, Detroit, MI. In recent years the Castro Theatre has hosted several premiers including in 1984 “The Times of Harvey Milk”, in 1985 the world premiere of “Buddies”, and in 2008 the world premiere of “Milk” which also featured the theatre in the movie. The Wurlitzer organ was removed from the theatre at the end of September 2015 and will be replaced by a 7 manual pipe/digital organ.

The theatre is still going strong in the country’s best known gay neighborhood. Playing films from across the spectrum of independent film, the Castro Theatre is one of the last picture palaces left in the San Francisco area.

In 1976 the Castro Theatre was designated San Francisco city landmark #100.

Contributed by Tom Rielly, Ken Roe

Recent comments (view all 148 comments)

stevenj on September 5, 2017 at 7:00 pm

The new 70mm print of Lawrence of Arabia played in a roadshow presentation over the 4 day holiday weekend starting last Friday evening. As the overture and entre act music played the house lighting dimmed gradually until only the curtains were half lit before finally going dark when the film started. Showmanship lives here! Whoever is up in the booth needs to be thanked not only for this weekend’s performances but for all films that play here. The print was great – crystal clear and vibrant.

davidcoppock on February 4, 2018 at 3:45 pm

The Castro theatre appeared on an episide of Mythbusters(season 2, episode 34).

stevenj on May 23, 2018 at 1:38 am

Saw 2001 70mm print at the 4:30 show yesterday. A couple of hiccups w/reel changes. Surprising in a theatre that seems to show 70mm several times a year. Otherwise another great presentation and a large appreciative crowd for a Monday afternoon. Another surprise was the house organist playing a 4:30 show made even more special by playing The Blue Danube and then Also sprach Zarathustra before the overture started.

Lou Rugani has posted a street shot of the line in front of the theatre for Sunday’s Kim Novak/Vertigo special event in Photos. Here is the news report from the SF Chronicle w/pics:

Kim Novak

terrywade on August 11, 2018 at 1:09 am

Finally after all these years of bad used small box no volume surround speakers on the side walls from the Blumenfeld Alhambra Theatre in SF the Castro Theatre will be getting a new kick ass stereo surround system we hear to go also along with their new electronic/pipe organ.

luvcinama on September 29, 2018 at 7:13 pm

When are they going to install the new sound system I hear of terrywade? Recently saw “Scotty” at the Castro and the sound was HORRIBLE! Very fuzzy and inaudible at times. The Castro would benefit greatly from a speedy installation of the Surround sound!

stevenj on January 1, 2019 at 5:05 am

Too bad the “Movie Theatre News” on the home page has been ignored for so long. So I will post this here since SF is one of the 7 cities and the Castro one of the theaters presenting Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma in 70mm in Dec/January.

70mm Roma

From a paywalled LA Times article:

“Cuarón shot “Roma” on the Alexa65 digital camera, mastering at 4K resolution. FotoKem, the only remaining 70mm print lab worldwide, handled the transfer from digital to film, as well as the production of 70mm film prints.”

stevenj on October 29, 2019 at 5:17 pm

Photo of souvenir program and ticket for Oct 1996 showing of restored 70mm print of Vertigo added in photos.

stevenj on January 22, 2021 at 10:03 pm

Interview with David Hegarty, house organist from today’s (Jan 22, 2021) SFGate:


m00se1111 on September 14, 2021 at 5:17 pm

There looks to be some movement here.. perhaps a re-opening for screenings coming soon?

The Castro has hosted FrameLine SF as well as a world premiere of “Sh*t and Champagne” in late August.

Live events in September (9/17 and 9/22) and then on (11/10) For those in SF who might check this out between now and then the ticket link is here.

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