Clay Theatre

2261 Fillmore Street,
San Francisco, CA 94115

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Additional Info

Operated by: Landmark Theatres (USA)

Previously operated by: Landmark Theatres (USA), Walter Reade Theatres

Styles: Art Deco, Neo-Classical

Previous Names: New Fillmore Theatre, Regent Theatre, Avalon Theatre, Clay International Theatre

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News About This Theater

Clay Theatre  San Francisco, CA  March 1996

The New Fillmore Theatre was built by the Naify Brothers and opened in 1910. In 1914 it was renamed Regent Theatre. In 1931 it was renamed Avalon Theatre. It was soon renamed Clay Theatre and on April 11, 1935 it was renamed Clay International Theatre screening foreign movies. By February 1941 it had resumed the Clay Theatre name once again. It was taken over by Landmark Theatres in 1991. The Clay Theatre closed on January 26, 2020 with the documentary “Honeyland”.

Contributed by William Gabel

Recent comments (view all 42 comments)

davepring on January 18, 2020 at 3:32 am

And another fine city cinema bites the dust because of development greed.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 18, 2020 at 7:19 pm

Jack Tillmany’s Theatres of San Francisco gives a somewhat different (and possibly more accurate) history of the Clay Theatre than we have at this time. It says that the house opened as the Regent Theatre in 1914, was renamed Avalon Theatre in 1931, and became the Clay International Theatre, an art house, on April 11, 1935.

However, it appears that the name Clay Theatre was adopted before the name Clay International. A May 6, 1935 article uploaded to this theater’s photo page by Mike Rivest says that “Herbert Rosener… has taken the Clay Theatre on Fillmore at Clay, changed its name to the Clay-International, and will use it as an exhibition place for outstanding films of European origin.”

I’ve been unable to discover the year the name Clay Theatre was first used, or the year when the addition “International” was dropped. An ad indicates that it had returned to being simply the Clay Theatre by February, 1941.

stevenj on January 25, 2020 at 8:42 am

Tomorrow, Jan 26th is the last day for the Clay Theatre. From the SF Chronicle this morning:


bigjoe59 on February 15, 2020 at 3:42 pm

Hello From NYC-

it seems developers in S.F. don’t have anymore love for historic theater buildings than developers in NYC. the Clay is a small theater how can the lot be used for development?

also at least S.F. has something neither NYC or L.A. have.
2 movie theaters build before the advent of WW I. the Vogue
and the 4 Star.

stevenj on February 16, 2020 at 10:53 am

If it is indeed demolished, probably housing. A non profit, the SF Theatre Foundation, which oversees the Vogue and Balboa, is injecting over $1million into the Opera Plaza and in a recent link mentioned on that theatre’s Cinema Treasures page mentions possibly trying to save the Clay also. From that link:

“Meanwhile, the foundation is in talks to save another neighborhood theater: the Clay Theater in Pacific Heights, which ceased operations this month. Jim Herbert said his group is hoping to “help restore and preserve this cultural treasure for the benefit of future generations.”

Add to that list of pre WW1 theaters still operating in SF the Roxie (1909 or 1912) on 16th St in the Mission District:


Betzee on June 20, 2021 at 9:40 am

In late 2010 the SFWeekly (or now defunct Bay Guardian) had an article about the impending closure of the Clay. It was saved and outlasted the Bridge by more than seven years.

What gave the Guild in Menlo Park, another Landmark single-screen theatre, staying power is that to redevelop the lot the owner would need to put in underground parking but it was too small to justify that investment.

A community group came together and formed a non-profit to develop a live-performance venue in a new building.

Trolleyguy on October 9, 2021 at 7:40 am

The current plan is to convert the Clay to a single open space for retail. More info at this link.

jwmovies on September 22, 2022 at 2:09 am

FYI like the Lumiere (main screen), this too had hardwood floors! You could hear footsteps a mile away it was so loud. The Metro, The Col, The Vogue, The Surf, The Stonestown Twin and The Royal had the same problem.

stevenj on February 19, 2024 at 7:55 am

SF Chronicle article on the sale of the Clay:

Clay Theater Sold

m00se1111 on April 17, 2024 at 11:05 am

“The Chronicle may have solved the riddle of the mystery buyer who bought the old Clay Theatre and five other buildings on the same block, and unsurprisingly, the person appears to be a wealthy venture capitalist.”

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