Sunday, August 11, 2013

Balboa Theater Kickstarter Campaign to upgrade to digital

I received the following email, copied below, a couple of days ago. It is about the Balboa Theater in San Francisco. Back in the 1920's, it showed a handful of Louise Brooks' films, as did many other neighborhood theaters in San Francisco and elsewhere. In 2006, the Balboa hosted a special event the Louise Brooks Society put on with film historian / critic Peter Cowie (see the August 3rd post) to celebrate the centenary of Louise Brooks' birth as well as the release of Cowie's Louise Brooks: Looking for Lulu. It was a memorable event.

I am forwarding this email not so much because of the Balboa's connections to Louise Brooks, but because this neighborhood theater, like others around the country, is facing a situation many theaters  are going through. And we, as film lovers, should be aware. I think this moment in film history may be akin to the time when silent era theaters were forced, by necessity, to "wire for sound."

SFNTF UPDATE, August 6th, 2013

The Balboa Theatre needs your help! After screening movies from film for almost 100 years, the Balboa needs to convert its projectors to digital in order to survive. You can click on the link below to contribute and receive great rewards for your support, or read on below for more information. In addition to contributing we hope you will spread the word about this campaign to family and friends via Facebook, Twitter and email.


The Balboa Theatre opened in 1926 and has served San Francisco's Richmond district continuously since then. Every year, thousands of residents of all ages visit the Balboa to relax and enjoy the magic of the movies in a classic neighborhood setting. We want this tradition to continue, but we need your help.

After 100 years of movies being screened from film, Hollywood is converting to digital. Every theatre must upgrade its projectors and associated equipment and it must be done by the end of this year. Upgrading the projection and sound equipment in both of the Balboa's auditoriums will cost close to $150,000. This goal of this Kickstarter campaign is to raise the funds to cover the cost of the digital upgrade for one of the Balboa's two auditoriums. Any funds raised above the goal will be put towards upgrading the second auditorium. You can click on this link to contribute: 

Unfortunately, classic cinemas like the Balboa are rarely able to compete against modern multiplexes. The Balboa is able to survive only because the non-profit San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation holds the lease for the Balboa and covers many expenses so that the Balboa's operator, CinemaSF, can afford to keep the theatre going. To date, the Theater Foundation has enabled numerous improvements including new paint, new floors, a new heating system and new seats. The expense of the digital upgrade, however, requires this Kickstarter campaign.

If the campaign is successful we will immediately upgrade the Balboa's auditorium 1 to digital and hopefully we'll be able to get work on auditorium 2 going as well. With digital projectors in place we'll be able to keep the Balboa alive offering a modern, first-class movie experience in a classic neighborhood theatre. Once the digital conversion is complete, we plan to work on other upgrades including expanding the concession operation to include beer, wine and food. We also hope to rehab the Balboa's aging restrooms.

And if we're not successful? Without digital the Balboa Theatre can't continue to screen new films and the theatre will likely go dark. We don't want that to happen and we know you don't want it to happen either. So please give what you can and help spread the word to friends and family about this campaign. In exchange for your support we'll give you great opportunities to experience the new and improved Balboa for many years to come. Please pass on this link to family and friends and click through to make your contribution! 

For more info about all the Balboa's programming including showtime information please visit!

San Francisco's Historic Balboa Theatre is located at 3630 Balboa Street (at 37th Avenue) in the Outer Richmond. Plenty of street parking is available and Muni's 31-Balboa serves the theatres directly .

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