Balboa Theatre

3630 Balboa Street,
San Francisco, CA 94121

Unfavorite 32 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 44 comments

thomdlt296 on December 5, 2023 at 3:34 pm

I’m happy to see it’s still open. In 1978, while I was 10, paid $2 to see “Meteor” with Sean Connery. Then, stayed in the theater with my brother and a friend to watch “Halloween”. It was the scariest day in my life having to wait for the 18 Sloat bus at a cold foggy bus stop after having just watched “Halloween”.

walterk on April 3, 2021 at 11:39 am

If all goes as planned, the Balboa will reopen on May 14 with a Godzillafest. Local article with more details can be read here.

ridethectrain on April 2, 2021 at 7:56 pm

Please update, total seats 375. Theatre 1 is 222 and theatre 2 is 153 based on Balboa Theatre reserved ticketing system

stevenj on October 29, 2019 at 12:00 pm

From the intro above: “By the 1960’s, the Balboa Theatre had very long runs of blockbuster films, at popular prices, including 92 weeks in 1966 and 1967 for “The Sound of Music”, which followed the roadshow engagement at the United Artists Theatre on Market Street.”

The roadshow engagement of The Sound of Music played at the UA from March 18, 1965 until the week of Dec 19, 1966 (92 weeks) according to Michael Coates' list of SF roadshow/70mm engagements: Here. Is the above inferring it ran for another 92 weeks at the Balboa?

bufffilmbuff on October 28, 2019 at 9:52 pm

Curious about the SOUND OF MUSIC run? Was this in 35mm and if so was the sound four track mag? I know as the release wound down Fox often still required stereo sound in order to show the film. Anyone have any idea?

moviebuff82 on August 19, 2019 at 6:04 pm

Did this theater show a 35mm print of OUATIH?

bigjoe59 on November 4, 2018 at 5:10 pm

Hello from NYC-

when The Sound of Music moved to this theater after its roadshow at the United Artist and after Doctor Zhivago moved here after its roadshow run at the Orpheum were they the original roadshow prints? in NYC when a film went to neighborhood theaters following roadshow runs they were often tweaked.

stevenj on August 31, 2018 at 11:03 am

moviebuff82….Balboa High School is in the southern part of San Francisco in the Excelsior District 6-7 miles from the Balboa Theatre which is in the Outer Richmond District.

moviebuff82 on August 30, 2018 at 3:52 pm

around this area there was shots fired at the balboa high school.

rivest266 on August 14, 2018 at 4:49 pm

reopened as a twin cinema on April 21st, 1978. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

rivest266 on July 31, 2018 at 8:42 pm

February 27th, 1926 grand opening ad in the photo section.

davidcoppock on March 10, 2018 at 6:25 am

Did it screen the movie “Balboa”?

moviebuff82 on November 14, 2017 at 1:22 pm

If a chain like AMC takes over this theater all hope will be lost.

moviebuff82 on April 17, 2017 at 2:22 pm

What is the highest grossing movie at this theater?

stevenj on November 16, 2016 at 11:54 am

A fire that destroyed most of the interior of the Balboa occurred in 1978. It resulted in the theater being twinned during the renovation. Another online article also mentions a fire in the 1940’s but no mention of any injuries in either fire. One would probably need to research the archives of the local newspapers for more details. This June 2016 Hoodline article honoring the Balboa mentions the 1978 fire:

tommysfo on November 15, 2016 at 5:39 pm

I heard there were a couple fires at the theatre. Was anyone ever hurt in those fires??? Does anyone know?

cmbussmann on February 4, 2016 at 8:11 am

Added two lobby photos from Dec. 2015.

cmbussmann on February 3, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens during my X-Mas sojourn in SF. It’s a fantastic neighborhood theatre with a great, congenial staff. Loved the experience!

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 2:54 pm

A 2011 photo can be seen here.

GaryMeyer on February 22, 2012 at 5:11 am

The Balboa was taken over by Adam Bergeron and Jaimi Holker on Jan. 13, 2012. The master lease was turned over to the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation in late 2011. The enthusiastic new operators, Cinema SF, also are running the sister theater, the Vogue. I had obtained a city grant to redo the facade and we are proud of the results…need to get a photo up here soon. New heaters were installed and there are many other projects planed for both theaters. I will still consult on special events and whatever they need help on but the plans are going to really bring back the theaters with contiued special events too.

And if you live nearby and want to experience a night at the movies, circa 1926, check this out. BALBOA BIRTHDAY BASH

Sunday, March 4, 2012 Doors open at 6:45pm Show starts at 7:00

The Balboa Theatre will celebrate its 86th Birthday on Sunday, March 4. A night at the movies circa 1926 will be the order of the day.

Inspired by Martin Scorsese and Brian Selznick’s HUGO, the evening’s feature film will be Harold Lloyd’s silent classic SAFETY LAST with a 35mm print directly from his granddaughter Suzanne.

It will be accompanied with an original score by pianist extraordinaire Frederick Hodges , preceded by a program of short subjects including films by George Melies (HUGO again).

There will also be a live vaudeville show featuring Melies himself performing some of his famous magic effects. Songstress Linda Kosut will sing songs her mother sang.

Author John Bengsten will offer an illustrated lecture exploring the locations Harold Lloyd used to make his movie. Bengston will sign copies of his newest book, Silent Visions: Discovering Early Hollywood and New York through the Films of Harold Lloyd,

Everybody will get birthday prizes and the evening will conclude with a special birthday cake created by the Cake Lady, Diane Boate served with liquid libations.

Audience members are encouraged to dress in their best jazz age clothing as we recreate a night at the movies in 1926. Vintage cars will be in front of the Balboa.

Advance tickets are on sale at the Balboa and online at

The Balboa Theatre is located at 3630 Balboa Street (Fox Performing Arts Centerth Avenue) in San Francisco’s Richmond District.

davidkaye on January 8, 2012 at 7:32 am

Gary Meyer has run the Balboa for 10 years and finally decided that he either had to sell it or take in a partner. It’s been known for years that he hadn’t made a dime off it but was operating it as a hobby, given his fulltime career as director of the Telluride film festival.

That partner is the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation, which also had taken over operating the Vogue Theater. Website:

So, as of January 6, 2012, not only is the Balboa getting a new lease on life but a new outdoor paint job as well. Looks like the Balboa is saved for now.

eileengoodnight on September 1, 2011 at 8:40 pm

I worked at the Balboa during the ‘70s. I was working there when Star Wars opened; in fact I remember the black and silver poster being hung up in the lobby. I didn’t like sci-fi so I was . Damn, I wish I had it now! During my tenure we showed mostly soft core porn and Kung Fu movies. Great location, fine theatre, wonderful memories!

Twistr54 on November 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm

A good companion book ,‘LOST DETROIT, Stories behind the Motor City’s majestic ruins’. its new…and ‘Detroit’s Downtown Movie Palace’s’…out for a few years. Both are good books, and I will be adding this book to my library.

garymey on October 21, 2010 at 11:14 am

Book Release and Film Show Event:

LEFT IN THE DARK: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theatres
Thursday, October 21, 7pm, $5 admission
“Impresarios” at the Balboa Theater with Julie Lindow, R.A. McBride, Gary Meyer and Melinda Stone!

A Night About the Moviegoing Experience
A fun evening for lovers of movies and theaters on Thursday night, October 21, 7pm at the Balboa. A program featuring authors who contributed to the beautiful new book about movie theaters, LEFT IN THE DARK: Portraits of San Francisco Movie Theatres. The book’s editor, Julie Lindow, will introduce photographer R.A. McBride who will present an illustrated presentation about the theaters of San Francisco and launch an exhibit of her photos in the Balboa lobby. Melinda Stone and Gary Meyer will talk about their chapters in the book. Sing-a-longs, prizes and theater games will be part of the celebration that includes an entertaining program of rare shorts, cartoons and trailers about the moviegoing experience.

Admission is only $5.00

Dish Give-Away, Sing-Along, Bingo, Ten-O-Win!
Photography exhibit by R.A. McBride, Slide Show, Readings and Stories!

Short Films Program:
BOSKO’S PICTURE SHOW by Friz Freleng and Hugh Harman
TEN-O-WIN by Christian Bruno
MOVIE PESTS by Pete Smith
BACALL TO ARMS by Robert Clampett and Art Davis
MINNIE’S YOO HOO by Walt Disney
Rare Previews of Coming Attractions and Surprises

The program will be followed by a reception and book signing.

Balboa Theater
3630 Balboa Avenue
San Francisco, CA

Photographs by R.A. McBride
Edited by Julie Lindow
Literary essays by: Rebecca Solnit, Katherine Petrin, Melinda Stone, Eddie Muller, Liz Keim, D. Scot Miller, Gary Meyer with Laura Horak, Elisabeth Houseman with Joshua Grannell, Sergio de la Mora, Chi-hui Yang, and Sam Sharkey.

Available now at for $39.95.
The book is now available for purchase at bookstores and the Balboa Theatre.
Published by Charta Art Books, distributed by D.A.P. (Distributed Art Publishers).
10 x 8 cardstock cover, 59 photographs, 168 pages, 11 chapters