Alamo Drafthouse New Mission Cinema

2550 Mission Street,
San Francisco, CA 94110

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Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas (Official)

Additional Info

Operated by: Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas

Previously operated by: Nasser Bros. Theaters

Architects: Timothy L. Pflueger, James Reid, Merritt Reid

Firms: Architecture Resources Group, Kerman Morris Architects, Reid Brothers

Functions: Movies (First Run)

Styles: Art Deco, Spanish Colonial

Previous Names: Mission Theatre, Premium Theatre, Idle Hour Theatre, New Mission Theatre

Phone Numbers: Box Office: 415.549.5959

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News About This Theater

New Mission Theatre

The Mission Theatre was opened in 1907. It was a narrow theatre on the west side of Mission Street, between 21st Street and 22nd Street. It was renamed Premium Theatre in 1911 and renamed Idle Hour Theatre in mid-1913.

In 1916, the architectural firm Reid Brothers reused the original theatre as an entrance lobby to their newly built auditorium of the 1,500-seat New Mission Theatre that sits on Bartlett Alley, behind the Mission Street storefronts. It opened May 6, 1916 with Mary Pickford in “Poor Little Peppina”. It was operated by Kahn & Greenfield. The entire building was now in a Spanish Colonial Revival style and the auditorium had 1,500 seats, all in the orchestra level. On November 15, 1917, a balcony was added, which was said to have 1,000 seats. In 1918 a 300-seat second balcony was added.

In 1932, for the Nasser Brothers circuit, architect Timothy Pflueger transformed the theatre especially the outer lobby, marquee, and 70ft blade sign, into an Art Deco style wonderland with 2,012 seats. After closing as a movie theatre in the 1980’s, the former New Mission Theatre spent the next 25 or so years virtually unaltered as a furniture store.

In 2001, the City College of San Francisco proposed to raze much of the New Mission Theatre and build new campus facilities inside the theatre’s building. Believing that more of a theatre could be retained while still achieving the school’s goals, a local group called ‘Save the New Mission Theatre’ lobbied to stop CCSF from executing its plans.

In 2012, Alamo Drafthouse announced plans as its first venture into California, to convert the New Mission Theatre into a five-auditorium cinema with a total of 550 seats. Designed by architectural firm Kerman Morris Architects, the main original orchestra level of the auditorium retains its 1920’s proscenium decorated with friezes of horn-blowing nymphs on ponies, and has a 55ft wide screen, 320 seats, and waiter service. The other auditorium range from 20 to 150 seats. Three auditoriums are located in the former balcony and the second largest auditorium is in the former balcony mezzanine.

The New Mission Theatre was designated a San Francisco Landmark building on May 18, 2004. Included in the listing are lobby, marquee, the balustrade and the d├ęcor in the auditorium, and have been restored to their original lustre. The Alamo Drafthouse New Mission Cinema opened December 17, 2015 with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens”.

Contributed by Ross Melnick, Howard B. Haas

Recent comments (view all 78 comments)

Life's Too Short
Life's Too Short on April 13, 2016 at 10:45 pm

It’s always amazing when they sit for this long and then come back. The renovation looks fantastic.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 1, 2017 at 11:11 pm

Two slide shows with both vintage and modern photos of the New Mission Theatre can be found on this page of the web site of Kerman Morris Architects, the firm that handled the recent renovation for Alamo Drafthouse.

Principals of the firm are Elizabeth Kerman-Morris and Edward Morris.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on August 4, 2018 at 12:27 pm

The Kerman Morris Architects link I posted earlier says that Architectural Resources Group (the correct name of the firm) acted as historic preservation consultants on the project. ARG’s own web site has several excellent photographs of the theater.

DavidZornig on December 22, 2018 at 9:16 pm

1930s and 2018 comparison shots added courtesy of Chris Arvin.

terrywade on August 7, 2019 at 12:43 pm

I hope some one from the Cinema Treasures site can post a better photo then the dirty theatre set up like the one that greats you now when you go to this New Mission site. The old cinema has way better photos to put on the first photo. Thanks!

terrywade on September 10, 2021 at 7:06 pm

The New Mission Theatre SF re opens today Sept 10 2021 after being closed many C19 months. Just a few of the auditoriums are showing movies till they get their staff up and going.

Mikeoaklandpark on September 11, 2021 at 12:33 pm

Do they have the one big auditorium or did they chop it up?

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on September 11, 2021 at 2:09 pm

Mikeoaklandpark; The former orchestra level is still original and uses the original proscenium. The front section of the balcony is divided into 3 small screens and the rear section of the balcony mezzanine is a single screen.

terrywade on September 12, 2021 at 10:52 pm

The large downstairs New Mission SF theatre #1 has 35mm/70mm film projectors, masking that moves plus curtains that work. So glad they have reopened. Arrive early to watch the pre show entertainment and grab a snack. The green neon marquee has been lit up again. Now they just need to put up some plastic letters to tell you what is playing inside.

terrywade on January 23, 2022 at 11:00 pm

The Drafthouse New Mission Theatre SF is starting to run 35mm/70mm films again. Now that the nearby Castro Theatre has cut way back on movies/films and going more live events the ‘New Mission’ will be a great cinema in San Francisco at least in the larger downstairs space that has film projectors to see a movie and grab some food. They just finished Licorice Pizza in a 70mm blow up print and soon have ‘Inherit Vice’ in 70mm plus ‘Mars Attacks’ with a 35mm film print. Stop by and say hello to the live projectionist Jim. He knows showmanship and curtain/masking cues.

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