SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – Moviegoers worried about the operation of the Castro Theater under a new management company showed up at the famed Movie Palace on Sunday to demand that classic cinema be part of the landmark’s future as well as its past. .
“I’ve been coming to the Castro Theater for decades, for the silent film festival, the black film festival and we want it to continue,” said Michael Petrelis, who hosted the “speak out” outside the theater on Sunday. afternoon. “I’m very nervous that Another Planet is a live music event producer. They don’t have a background in film programming.
Another Planet Entertainment announced Wednesday that it has partnered with the Castro’s owners, Bay Properties, Inc., to renovate the venue and refocus on live entertainment. Petrelis and others are concerned that a concert organizer is overseeing events at a site that has shown movies for a century.
“The Castro is one of the most important cultural institutions left in San Francisco and it’s personally very important to me,” said Allen White, a filmmaker and film professor who signed a note placed on the theater.
Others wrote messages of support for continued film programming at the Castro and tied them to the theater. Some wrote in chalk on the sidewalk. Supporters on the street on Sunday said the Castro Theater was not only a mainstay of the local film scene, but also a historic site for the LGBT community.
“It’s been the big little sister for 100 years of the Castro district. It’s a history filled with divisions, it’s the theater that has helped bring this community together,” said Russell Merritt, standing in front of the theater. Merritt is a film historian and gives tours around San Francisco. “This theater is in dire need of an overhaul and certainly the money coming in will help restore the Castro to its former glory. It’s a mess right now.”
The upgrades announced by Another Planet Entertainment raise hopes that the new operator will be able to modernize the Castro while maintaining the tradition of screenings of repertory films and other programs important to moviegoers and the LGBT community.
“They recognize that I think they are taking responsibility for a really important institution,” District 8 Supervisor Rafael Mandelman said. “They offer tremendous resources, the ability to invest in a theater that has been around for decades without the investment to make it accessible, usable, and an even bigger space.”
KPIX attempted to contact Another Planet Entertainment to respond to the “Speak-Out” but did not hear back by Sunday night. The company recognized the theater’s history for both the cinema and the neighborhood in a statement posted online.
“The Castro Theater is an icon of the LGBTQ community, a treasured space for film, music and live performances and a beautiful building that we will be upgrading for increased use in the future,” said Gregg Perloff, CEO and co-founder of Another Planet. the company’s website.
The statement went on to say that the company has a history of working to preserve historic buildings around the Bay Area.
But some of those gathered on Sunday said those improvements came with a change in programming at those venues.
“We love this theater, we want all kinds of entertainment here,” Petrelis said.