Presidio Theatre

2340 Chestnut Street,
San Francisco, CA 94123

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Showing 1 - 25 of 29 comments

rivest266 on June 27, 2022 at 5:33 am

Deep Throat opened here on July 28th, 1972. Ad posted.

Bobbalt on July 30, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Rare news footage from KPIX Channel 5 (San Francisco) covering the first San Francisco Erotic Film Festival at the Presidio, 12/2/1970. Link below courtesy of the Bay Area Television Archive.

Mikeyisirish on June 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm

A 2011 photo can be seen here.

darquil on April 24, 2010 at 11:31 pm

I’ve posted information and photos from a recent visit here.

theauteur on February 20, 2009 at 6:06 pm

I am watching D.A. Pennebaker’s Don’t Look Back with the director’s commentary on, and they mention that this film was hard to distribute when it first came out. Pennebaker mostly played the film on his one and only 16mm print of it at schools and colleges while he tried to figure out what to do with it. Then someone from the Art Theaters Guild approached him about screening it at the Presidio in San Francisco which at the time was in bad shaped playing pornography. The film then sort of premiered here before being made a 35mm print and screening in NYC.

JimC on August 1, 2008 at 8:13 am

The Presidio Theater has just completed upgrading the sound system in Theater #1 (the big one) to digital sound. The installation inculded putting new speakers behind the screen and adding more surround speakers to the sides and back walls of the auditorium.

Digital sound upgrades to the remaining auditorums are scheduled in the near future.

The Presidio has one of the largest non-IMAX screens in San Francisco, now that the METRO and CORONET are gone. They now have big sound to match the big picture.

telliott on January 20, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Yes LM, love marquee shots. Someday i would love to do a framed collage of just brightly lit marquees with all that beautiful neon!

HowardBHaas on August 23, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Photos including interior and including the former main chandelier of the auditorium, here:

terrywade on August 5, 2007 at 6:20 pm

Can Mr Lee fix the neon at the Presidio. It is out on both sides. He also uses different colors for the marquee letters. Please,I think some of the marquee people are still around to sell him all blue, green or red new or used letters? What will he do at the new Marina down the street? The top still has Cinema 21 but the bottom says Marina Theatre. I hope he saves the black light side pictures of San Francisco that graced the walls. Now lets get Mr Lee on board with the marquee problem at his Presisio then he can move on with purchase of the Metro a few blocks away. Turn it into San Francisco’s first movie and dinner theatre.

kencmcintyre on October 28, 2005 at 6:26 pm

From the SF Public Library website:

View link

Eric on October 6, 2005 at 4:11 pm


Yep, that’s it, back when it was a single screen.

br91975 on March 25, 2005 at 6:46 am

…and today’s award for the msot unusual use of a movie theatre image in a media format goes to… DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc.

In their new TV commercial touting advancements in knee replacement surgery, a reverse image of the Presidio’s marquee can be briefly glimpsed. (Guess you see the darndest things in the darndest places… )

GaryParks on December 24, 2004 at 12:45 pm

I am looking forward to visiting the newly-reopened Presidio sometime soon. Although the article mentioned above that the interior facelift makes use of the theatre’s art deco style, one significant thing is gone forever—the enormous sheetmetal sunburst chandelier from the center of the auditorium ceiling. It was removed in pieces. These pieces were rescued by a local antique dealer (not the usual “antique dealer friend” I’ve mentioned in many postings before, who has saved a multitude of fixtures from Bay Area theatres being remodeled or destroyed), and I chanced upon some of these pieces being offered for sale at the Art Deco and Modern Antique Show and Sale earlier this month at San Francisco’s Concourse Exhibition Center. The dealer had a photo of the rest of the pieces. This fixture was huge. I remember photographing it when seeing a movie at the Presidio in 1990.

gsmurph on December 24, 2004 at 12:40 pm

Screens should be changed to “Multiplex-4 screen” (and hopefully the acchitecture won’t be too badly obliterated).

scottfavareille on December 24, 2004 at 12:25 pm

Update: The theater reopens tomorrow(Dec 25th) as an independent 4-screener operated by Frank Lee(operator of the 4-Star and som of Frank Lee Sr who operated the now defunct Bella Union theater 40 yrs ago) and will be showing first-run films. The original theater has been divided into 3 screens: orchestra has the original screen, the balcony has been divided into 2 screens with “stadium seating for 100 each”. “A small screening room”(ie theater 4) “has been added to the side”. “The seats, restrooms and concession stand are all new” and the interior face lift “makes use of the Presidio’s original Art Deco design”. (Quotes are from today’s SF Chronicle article on page E3)—The article also mentioned that Lee “has signed a deal this week to take over Cinema 21, just down the street on Chestnut, which has been dormant since 2001.”

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on December 24, 2004 at 9:39 am

The Film Daily Yearbook, 1940 gives a seating capacity for the El Presidio Theatre as 828.

Eric on December 24, 2004 at 8:22 am

The Presido re-opens 12/25/04!!!

We can’t wait!

scottfavareille on July 22, 2004 at 9:10 am

Does anybody have a re-opening date?

scottfavareille on May 15, 2004 at 9:58 am

In the mid-late 1960’s, much of the programming at the Presidio was “adults only” films. Russ Meyer films would often play first run here. Some films that played first run here include: Vixen, I Am Curious Yellow, Without a Stitch, and Deep Throat(first Bay Area engagement was in the last week of July, 1972—Behind the Grren Door premiered about a week later at the O'Farrell theater.) DeRenzy’s “documentary” Pornography in Denmark: A New Approach had a successful moveover run here as well.

Tillmany on May 15, 2004 at 3:11 am

The Presidio opened on July 1, 1937 as El Presidio.
It was built by Baron and Nathan, John H. Ahnden was the architect.
The cost of construction was reported to be between $75,000 and $l00,000.
Its purpose, initially, was to supply the Marina district with a
third run and/or secondary level film venue, supplementing the nearby Marina (later Cinema 21), which, at that time, was strictly a second run outlet for major titles.
In 1951 the theatre was sold to Gerald Hardy who renamed it the Presidio. A decade later Hardy retired and it was sold again.
Foreign films became a staple commodity, but the phenomenal success of Deep Throat in the early 1970’s tagged it as major porno venue and as such it operated successfully for many years.
In the 1990’s it was remodelled, upgraded, and became a major first run outlet. Presently it is being remodelled into a multi-plex.

Eric on May 11, 2004 at 12:07 pm

I can’t wait for the theatre to re-open!! The closure of the Alexandria left a void of places to go see a movie in the Richmond, Sunset, and the Marina. Hopefully the Presidio can fill that void now.

Patrick Crowley
Patrick Crowley on May 2, 2004 at 7:11 am

Currently, Cinema Treasures is not accepting new images (more details), so that’s why this image hasn’t been updated, Tillmany.

Unfortunately, adding theater photos is extremely labor-intensive, and we have yet to develop a truly scalable solution capable of supporting thousands of theaters. But we do hope to finally overcome this challenge later this year.

In the meantime, though, I’ve removed the photo that was on this page, so at least there’s no confusion about which Presidio we’re talking about.

Tillmany on May 1, 2004 at 5:20 pm

Two other contributors have pointed out that the picture that you
have of the “Presidio” theatre is not the one on Chestnut Street,
as described, but the one in the former Presidio Army Base.
One contributor, geofuz, was even so kind as to send in a current
picture of the correct Presidio. That was over a YEAR ago!
But the picture has still not been corrected.
What’s going on???