UA Galaxy

1285 Sutter Street,
San Francisco, CA 94109

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Showing 1 - 25 of 30 comments

rivest266 on August 15, 2018 at 3:58 pm

February 17th, 1984 grand opening ad in the photo section.

stevenj on October 5, 2017 at 8:28 am

The new building on the site of the old Galaxy at 1285 Sutter is a14 story apartment building with a CVS on the ground floor.

bigjoe59…..the redevelopment of this lot was delayed by the 2008 recession when practically nothing got built and the notoriously slow pace of the SF Planning Dept.

GeorgeSenda on October 4, 2017 at 2:44 am

This theater sat boarded up with all the glass still intact and the concession stands too. They turned it into a CVS drugstore.

bigjoe59 on April 4, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Hello Again from NYC-

i thank robboehem for your reply. when i discovered this wonderful site late January 2013 i looked up all the movie theaters i remembered from my trips out to L.A. and S.F.. so i was shocked that a modern built state of the art movie theater had such a short lifespan. the only theater in Manhattan that comes close is the 62 St. & 1st Avenue multiplex built by Cineplex Odeon which opened the fall of 1992. it closed down a few years ago and is just standing there bordered up and unused.

speaking of which. i read in the intro that this theater wasn’t demolished until almost 6 years after it closed. so i was just sitting there for 6 years gathering dust?

robboehm on April 2, 2017 at 5:43 pm

Big Joe a lot of theaters don’t even make it that long. The Brookhaven Multiplex on Long Island lasted 18 years, the Five Towns, Raceway Cinema and others even less. Now a days it’s common to tear down and rebuild rather than upgrade. All properties are leased these days. There was one on CT the other day that didn’t make it past the first year.

bigjoe59 on April 2, 2017 at 4:29 pm

Hello from NYC-

i went to this theater a number of times whenever i visited San Francisco. for instance i saw Sofia Coppola’s first film “The Virgin Suicides” and “The Favor” with Brad Pitt. if i am not mistaken this theater most have the shortest lifespan of any modern built movie theater.

Chapps on January 26, 2017 at 2:22 pm

I have one great memory of this theater. No, it wasn’t anything like the best theaters in the city (I miss the Coronet!), but you had to be there when ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ opened in 1985. My sister and I had to wade through a sea of Madonna wanna-bes, which showcased the absolutely worst of 80’s fashion and hairstyles. Fun movie, though. Not an attractive theater (but really good sound, as I recall).

robertcampbell on February 24, 2016 at 10:47 pm

Saw “The Color Purple” there. The auditorium we were in had a nice size screen and great sound system with the screen having curtains that opened and closed. Lobby had a interesting layout with the pay phones and restrooms upstairs. Only went there a few times. It seemed that no one seemed to miss it after it was demolished.

od_sf on October 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm

The galaxy was one of nine theaters across the US to feature an exclusive one-time showing of the entire Star Wars trilogy on March 28, 1985.

CSWalczak on June 20, 2012 at 7:03 pm

It is the Regency II; the Regency I was around the corner in the same block but facing Van Ness.

HowardBHaas on June 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Is that the Regency I on the left in the demolition photos linked by NothingDiesButBlueSkies?

SnoozeKing on June 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm

I worked as an assistant manager there in the early 1990s. The district manager, Larry Levin, set my salary at $592 per month, thereby making me the lowest-paid full-time manager in the Bay Area. The manager in charge of training me was Marc Johnson. He said, “You are in the impossible position of having to try to learn something from me.” Marc was an accountant moonlighting at the Galaxy. He got mad at me once and threw my lunch into the garbage while I was eating it; he lived with an anchorwoman and said he was leaving town to study medicine at USC (did he graduate?)

The Galaxy ran many bad movies and its receipts each night were often minuscule, so I wondered how long would survive. Instead of hiring a professional projectionist, they used one of the managers (often me; I nearly wrecked a brand-new print of Terminator 2). I had also worked as a manager at a Blumenfeld theatre and often asked myself, “Can these companies be any stingier?”

SkotFromTheRio on February 20, 2012 at 10:48 am

Admittedly, the ol' “stack of phone booths” was far from an architectural gem, but it had auditoriums designed for widescreen and surround, so in it’s time it was state-of-the-art in terms of presentation.

When they showed TERMINATOR 2, they performed an interesting experiment: one screen showed T2 in 35mm and digital surround (Early DTS) and another screen had T2 in 70mm and Dolby 6-track.

Even though I was managing another theatre (the Metro), I had an opportunity to program a few midnights there. We found a print of OKLAHOMA! in Todd-AO (30 fps!) and it did pretty well— though we thought the projector was going to fly apart. WE did really well with a October midnight screening of THE EXORCIST in 70mm. It was an original roadshow print from the 70s, and the reds had faded a bit, but the sound was amazing.

CaptBill on September 4, 2011 at 8:09 am

The Galaxy is now being demolished. (September 2011) Don’t know if anything will go up in its place, but condos were at once planned for the site.

HelenH on October 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm

The Galaxy is not to be missed, but I mean that in a negative way. “A movie palace for the 1980s”? Well, the ‘80s sucked in many ways.

The Galaxy was architecturally weird, with glass for glass’s sake and an interesting look from the outside, but inside it was basically a mall multiplex with an unfriendlier layout. Points for a big screen, a fine sound system, and a staff that kept the projection in focus. But the seats were oddly uncomfortable and the restrooms were upstairs from the auditoriums, an ordeal for anyone who’s not athletic. If it’s a palace it’s a palace designed by someone who didn’t like movies or didn’t like movie palaces (or didn’t like either).

kpdennis on April 25, 2009 at 1:55 pm

One of the funkiest, retro-futuristic designs ever? The Galaxy in 1997:
View link

Aerick on March 23, 2008 at 3:30 am

I think for many of us who experienced the Galaxy in SF during the 80’s, it was our first meeting with THX sound. Me and a friend would always go there and nudge each other when that THX intro came on before the film started.

geez, so many memories of that theatre. Serial Mom, Married to the Mob, the 3rd Indiana Jones movie, A View to a Kill so many others. Personally i loved the Regency I across the street for its interior.

RetroFan on March 4, 2008 at 9:24 am

Not my favorite theater, but I saw some great films here. The huge glass lobby was a HUGE waste of space – it’s design (or lack of) made no sense. They could have constructed an entire auditorium in its place.
The restrooms were upstairs and all the theaters were on the ground level. The seats didn’t offer much leg room and were the type where heads got in the way. Not comfortable by any means.
That said, their screens were impressive! This was also my first experience with THX sound in 1992 and I was blown away. If you were lucky to catch the film in either of the two large auditoriums, you would be very impressed with the presentation.
I rather liked the smaller auditoriums, however. Overall, poorly designed but the films were presented well.

terrywade on August 16, 2007 at 6:26 pm

To bad the Landmark people don’t close the two tiny theatres they run The Lumiere and Opera Plaza. They can take over the long closed Galaxy. A big improvement over what they call art theatres now. Some people have bigger screens on the home screens. The old UA Galaxy needs some work but will go the way of many San Francisco Theatres. Condos will go up some day.

Natalieland2006 on October 16, 2006 at 5:52 am

To whom it may concern:

Perhaps someone may buy it to reopen and restore. An owner can refuse buyout offers. Live and Internet performances are possible. Each theater has to be unique in style.

I’m in the market in the United States for a theater. Historic ones are certainly nice to pursue. I had studied theater in college.

You certainly are welcome to drop me a line sometime. Have a very nice day.

Thank you for your consideration.

Very Truly Yours,

Matt Daniels. ().

stevemcgarrett on April 5, 2006 at 10:14 pm

I must have been under a rock when learning thru another site that the ol Galaxy quietly closed up for good.
An island boy from the 50th state I moved to SF in 1998 and the first movie that I saw at the Galaxy was “Dance With Me” though I already saw this movie back home in Hawaii. The Galaxy was a quaint 4 plex theater and I have watched a slew of flicks here, did a bunch of sneak preview showings which was eventually the last time I graced my presence in this establishment before the 4 plex decided to go arthouse. The movies Hollywood was putting out , the nearby AMC 1000 @ Van Ness, The Metreon & the revolution of DVD’s are a few things that took a toll on the ol Galaxy.

JimC on January 16, 2006 at 6:39 am

Yes, the GALAXY listing needs to be updated.
I live in San Francisco and can confirm that the Galaxy has indeed closed. I was invited to an after-hours closing “party” on the final night but was unable to attend. I was also looking to buy some equipment from them for the theatre I work at as well as for my home projection room and was told I couln’t do so because all their projection equpment had been donated to a local film foundation. The Galaxy has “disappeared” from the movie listings that pop up on my home page, and their phone number no longer works.

Edward Havens
Edward Havens on December 17, 2005 at 7:21 am

This was in the Balboa Theatre newsletter sent out last night by Gary Meyer, co-founder of the Landmark chain…

BREAKING NEWS- R.I.P. Galaxy Theatre

It wasn’t my favorite theater but the large screens at the Galaxy offered a pretty good show before the megaplexes opened in SF. The Galaxy was built in 1984 on Van Ness at Sutter. The Regency I & II across the street were among the hottest theaters in town (along with the Northpoint and Coronet). UATC wanted to make a statement with an architecturally interesting building and “state-of-the art” cinemas featuring THX sound and be located in this important location. No major new theaters had opened in San Francisco in years. The theater did well but never spectacularly. But when the Regencys closed, unable to compete against the Metreon and AMC 1000, the corner lost its luster and the Galaxy had a tough time getting movies. They attempted to be an “art cinema” but had to be content with the leftovers. With no marketing person on-site to promote the concept, and a rather programming schizophrenic approach, there was no sense of place.

Rent was very high and the landlord wouldn’t let them close or leave. Finally a deal has been worked out and last night the Galaxy quietly closed. Today’s Movie Guides suggest you call for show times but it just rings. Theatre ghosts don’t answer the phone.

It wasn’t my favorite theatre, either. The one time I went there was for a private screening of The Abyss. The sound and picture were fine, but I much preferred the #1 house at the Kabuki to anything there.

Eric on December 14, 2005 at 9:27 am

The Galaxy IS closing. The last day is Thursday 12/15.