Clay Theater closing

The box office at the Clay Theater.

Fillmore’s jewel-box cinema, the Clay Theater, is closing at the end of the month after 100 years.

The sad news came in a simple sign posted in the theater’s windows. The Clay was thought to have a more secure future than many neighborhood theaters because it was part of Landmark Theatres. Landmark gave no indication the Clay was endangered and has publicly said nothing about the closure.

One of the final films scheduled at the Clay is a midnight showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on Saturday, August 28. The theater will close the next day.

UPDATE: Leah Garchik reports in the Chron: The San Francisco Film Society would love to take over the Clay and has been in negotiations for several months with the landlord, but so far no deal’s been struck. “We think we can bring enormous value to the theater,” said Graham Leggat. “We want to build our program around it as a beacon of culture for the Fillmore Street business district.”

Read more: “It’s a blow to the neighborhood”

  • Art Persyko

    HELP “SAVE THE CLAY”!
    To find out how, please read on:

    DEAR CLAY THEATER SUPPORTER:
    The San Francisco Film Society is one of the top twenty organizations of its kind in the world, one of the top ten in the United States, and oldest, biggest and most widely respected film exhibition organization in Northern California. Since 1957, the Film Society has been enriching the lives of Bay Area residents by presenting the best film and media from around the world, notably via the acclaimed San Francisco International Film Festival. The longest-running festival in the Americas, the International celebrated its golden anniversary in April 2007. During its first half-century, the Film Society has hosted more than 2,000 filmmakers and presented more than 6,500 films from 124 countries to audiences numbering more than two million people. It is beloved by its audiences and the international film industry alike. Its contributions to the cultural life of the Bay Area are immeasurable.

    Now, as the Film Society begins its 54th year of operation, it is looking ahead to an even brighter future. In recent years the organization has launched many new activities, resulting in significant increases in membership, attendance, sponsorship and earned income. Its numbers are up across the board, in fact, and it is well on its way to establishing itself as a major cultural institution with a vibrant year-round presence. Central to this mission is the acquisition of a theater that the Film Society can call its home, one in which it can present many types of year-round programming in the areas of film exhibition, education, and filmmaker services.

    Since December 2009, the Film Society has been in negotiations with the landlord of the Clay Theater, in an attempt to lease or purchase the building. So far these talks are at an impasse over terms, but ultimately the Film Society hopes to bring the negotiations to a successful and swift conclusion, resulting in a longterm lease or ownership of the Clay. Once the Film Society has the theater, it intends to significantly upgrade the physical plant, which needs a good number of improvements, and reopen it as a revitalized cultural and community hub for the thriving Upper Fillmore business district.

    With a half-century of film-exhibition experience under its belt, there is no doubt that the Film Society can make a success of running the Clay. The organization will program the same eclectic and popular mix of international, independent, and documentary films that have so engaged its diverse audiences. It will also program “Landmark”-type films, meaning first-run arthouse hits, as they become available, and will present a number of mini-festivals devoted to individual filmmakers and national cinemas. In all cases the Film Society will add value to these screenings, with panels, talks, and filmmakers in attendance.

    So, we urge you, as someone who attends the Clay Theater, appreciates its role in your cultural life, and wants it to continue showing great films in our neighborhood, to ask the landlord to resume negotiations with the Film Society, to come to terms with the realities of today’s recessionary marketplace and real-estate values, and make it possible for the Film Society to operate and bring renewed energy to our beloved Clay Theater. When you send a letter to the Clay Theater landlord, please also email a copy of your letter to the San Francisco Film Society at: . Thank you for your efforts to make it possible to “Save the Clay”! – Graham Leggat, Executive Director of the SFFS

    Sample letter below. Please send it to the Clay Theater’s landlord:
    Balgobind Jaiswal c/o Blu, 2259 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, California, 94115

    DEAR MR. JAISWAL:

    AS A CLAY THEATER CUSTOMER, I WAS ALARMED TO HEAR THAT OUR BELOVED NEIGHBORHOOD THEATER IS TO CLOSE ON AUGUST 29. I VALUE THE CLAY THEATER AS A UNIQUE AND IRREPLACEABLE COMMUNITY INSTITUTION AND WANT TO SEE IT CONTINUE TO PRESENT WONDERFUL FILMS IN A GREAT NEIGHBORHOOD SETTING, AS IT HAS DONE FOR THE PAST 100 YEARS. PLEASE RESUME NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE SAN FRANCISCO FILM SOCIETY TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR THE SFFS TO OPERATE AND BRING RENEWED ENERGY TO THE CLAY THEATER. CLAY THEATER PATRONS AND ALL OF SAN FRANCISCO’S FILM COMMUNITY WOULD BE ETERNALLY GRATEFUL IF YOU WOULD MAKE THIS POSSIBLE. THANK YOU!

    SIGNED______________________________________________________

    PRINT NAME__________________________________________________

    ADDRESS____________________________________________________

    EMAIL ADDRESS______________________________________________

    TELEPHONE NUMBER_________________________________________

    • Dfilippi

      please do let the Clay Theatre remain — it is an institution in San Francisco — only reason we ever come to Fillmore Street. When we go to the movies, we shop and eat in the neighborhood. It’s an enormous asset the neighborhood

    • Nomie

      Letting the Clay Theatre and its long history vanish ( probably to be replaced by some anonymous looking cookie-cutter hair salon, women’s clothing store or soon-to-be-out-of-business restaurant) would be just another step in the relentless move towards depersonalizing our city streets. This is a problem of neighborhoods all over San Francisco. While I love the Clay, it’s not just the movie theater we would be losing, but another unique and historic venue that characterizes Fillmore Street, making it different from other neighborhood “main streets.” The Pacific Heights Neighborhood Association has successfully fought off the encroachment of mass market chain stores. To me, letting the Clay go is in the same category. When we lose our neighborhood theater, we end up in the multi-plex, and we’re just one step closer to finding that we are living in a faceless strip mall.

  • John Novicki

    What is Happening. I have promoted over 30 years. Is there anyone else interested in sawing our entertainemnet or are we just going to let everything die a quiet death and just sit around and say Remember when? please someone get involved as I want to save the theaters. contact me at promoterjohn@yahoo.com