The operator of a trio of independent movie theaters in San Francisco is asking for the city's help to stay afloat.
CinemaSF on Tuesday launched a campaign to raise $100,000 in order to continue running the Balboa, Vogue and 4 Star theaters. Each of them have been on the west side of the century for around a century, with CinemaSF reopening 4 Star last December.
Trying to revitalize the 4 Star has "depleted (CinemaSF's) finances and left us in an unsustainable situation."
"Couple this with an industry that has been very slow to release movies of quality to the movie-going public for fear of their own financial loss, and a portion of the population still hesitant to return to indoor movies," Adam Bergeron and Jaimi Holker, CinemaSF's co-owners, write on GoFundMe on Tuesday, "we find ourselves needing to humbly ask for your help so that we can survive this momentary downturn and move quickly, successfully forward with our mission to keep movies and small, independent venues alive, fairly compensate our staff, and continue to offer welcoming spaces for the communities we so value, to gather, create, and enjoy together."
Bergeron told the San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday that attendance at some screenings at the recently reopened 4 Star in the Outer Richmond has totaled in the single digits. But it has been stronger at other showings, including at a mystery double feature of Nicolas Cage films last month.
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The Balboa Theater, also in the Outer Richmond, is home to monthly screenings of "The Room" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show," two cult classics notorious for their raucous audience participation. The Vogue is the oldest of the trio, and the second-oldest theater in San Francisco, after originally opening its doors in 1912.
CinemaSF said the fundraiser, which had raised nearly $12,500 as of this story's initial publication, was "a one-time ask."
"Please help us now through this financial challenge so we can keep providing you with all of this, and continue to support and participate with, our amazing communities," Bergeron and Holker wrote. "Your generous contributions will help us resolve outstanding construction and operating expenses and will allow us to continue providing the exceptional and eclectic programming and good times everyone has come to count on at all of our venues."
The chain is also showing a trio of San Francisco-set films in April that will serve as fundraisers: "Vertigo" at Vogue Theater on April 6, "The Princess Diaries" at 4 Star on April 13 and "So I Married An Axe Murderer" at Balboa on April 27. Chronicle journalists Heather Knight, Peter Hartlaub and Tony Bravo will host the screenings.