Tempers Burn When Castro Theater Hosts First Public Meeting With Another Planet Entertainment

At a packed Castro Theater, dozens of “save your seats” activists were heard Thursday night at a raucous public meeting about the theater’s future.

Since January’s announcement that Another Planet Entertainment will take over management of the Castro Theater, there has been a movie marathon of community outrage. So replace movie shows with more commercialized live music events. One of the biggest points of controversy is that Another Planet Entertainment (APE) plans to remove the theater’s lower tier and replace it with a standing area or cocktail table, using temporary seating for film screenings. I was doing it.

Neighborhood merchants and cultural groups have unabashedly voiced their opposition when replacing Castro’s repertoire of predominantly LGBTQ+ film programs would draw more straight audiences to the theater and, by extension, the neighborhood itself. raising. Just as Castro’s Halloween was ruined by rowdy suburban people in his early-to-mid-2000s, this could affect neighborhood structures that lack respect for its heritage. I have a big anxiety.

So APE set up its first public meeting at the theater on Thursday night to discuss their plans. It hopes to allay concerns about the future of the city’s traditional favorite movie theaters. The lower level of the theater was standing-only capacity, and the balcony was open for crowd overflow (which, to be honest, is rare these days). The SFist was there and heard a longtime fan of the theater lamenting what he felt the APE plan was “a disgust for the cultural institution.”

“Tearing the seats in a theater is like tearing the beating heart of the theater,” said Mark Hustis, the longtime producer of the event at the Castro Theater.

In addition to the highly controversial issue of Castro’s seat removal and replacement, there were rumors that theater ticket sales were handled exclusively through Ticketmaster. , is not currently linked to Castro’s upcoming calendar of events on the APE website. But since his other APE venues offer his Ticketmaster links exclusively, this concern seems justified.

“We didn’t say we would work with Ticketmaster. That’s some kind of misinformation out there in the world,” APE senior vice president Mary Conde told the audience on Thursday night. You have not selected a ticket sales platform to use.”

The evening kicked off with an introduction from Bevan Dufty, a former district supervisor (who admitted to receiving $7,500 a month to advocate for APE on this project). They showed a tribute movie to the theater. This also applies to APE’s future plans for the venue. Snippets from that film are shown above, but you can watch the full video on his website at The Castro Theater.

APE literally gave some concessions to opponents of these plans. Complimentary popcorn and drinks were provided, and the meeting was extended by an hour to allow everyone who wanted to speak. It also allowed stage presentations by groups openly opposed to the plan, including the Castro LGBTQ Cultural District and the Castro Theater Conservancy.

“Traditional cinema seats are being replaced with folding or stacking chairs, with temporary risers installed over flat platforms,” ​​said Peter Pastreich, executive director of the Castro Theater Conservancy. “There must be some reason why there are no significant movie theaters anywhere with portable chairs on temporary risers.”

The two expressions above show how seats (or lack of seats) are utilized in a live concert event. Perhaps most events are concerts, but movies are shown. Huestis asked his APE’s Conde about the number of seats in the movie.

“We haven’t decided on the number of seats,” she said. “I don’t know exactly” because I don’t know the exact chairs used in the redesign.

“I was doing shows here and living very poorly,” said Huestis. “For his 100 or 200 seats in the orchestra, the most expensive seats are sold. [Without those, I] Do not make a profit. “

Image: Joe Kukula, SFist

This was shown to the audience as a rendition of the seating layout for the movie. Yes, my smartphone didn’t take the best photos.

Christopher Wasney, Lead Architect at CAW Architects, said: He said the chairs have cushions, armrests and cup holders, and that chairs on the same platform have different heights so the person in front doesn’t block their view.

A rendering of the seating arrangement for the movie is shown below.

Rendering with CAW Architects

But Wasney sneered and hissed when he said the flexibility of the layout would allow for “banquets, fundraisers, weddings, parties.” A millionaire’s wedding?” I shouted.

“We recognize the rich culture of audience participation,” quipped Wasney at the Castro Theater. “I’m sure you won’t hold back your thoughts.”

There was some support for APE’s plan, with comments about 85% to 15% on APE’s proposal. But APE is a great steward of other historic theaters, and the foot traffic it brings could reduce vacancies in neighborhood retailers and make Castro Theater more economically viable than it has been in years. I definitely have that feeling.

“The option to save theaters could be a partnership with Another Planet,” said one community member, Johnny Delaplane. “This theater is beautiful. I don’t want to be crunch his gym like the Alhambra on Polk Street.”

Image: Joe Kukula, SFist

And that change is already underway. APE has already taken over the Castro Theater website and, as you can see above, all the old movie posters are gone. These will be replaced by posters for his other upcoming APE events. The Alaska poster above looks perfect for Robbie at first glance, but notice how it fits the show at The Independent. The same goes for all the other movie posters removed from the downstairs washroom level. Change is happening, for better or worse.

“I want to be part of the team that will help Castro Theater survive another 100 years,” Conde told the audience. “I don’t think what we’re doing is destroying theater.”

But the question is, is that futuristic Castro Theater a place you can attend? Or if you would prefer to feel welcome.

Related: Castro Theater changes management, will no longer primarily show films, will be more of a live venue [SFist]

Image: Joe Kukula, SFist

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