On April 17th I attended a screening of an original 35mm print of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory at the historic Castro Theater in San Francisco. The theater was built in 1922 and in 1976 it was declared a historic landmark. Until 1976 it showed mainstream first run films like the ones we enjoy today. After 1976 it started showing second run, foreign, art, film festivals, and special showings which it still does to this very day.
This was the opening of Matinees for Maniacs which is a sister program to their Midnights for Maniacs. Matinees for Maniacs is focused on highlighting family friendly films of high quality. The manager of the Castro Jesse Hawthorne Ficks opened the show with an impassioned speech about enjoying film the way it was intended. Looking around the historically beautiful theater I was inclined to agree. Ficks also provided some context to the film with a brief history of how it was received by its original audiences and critics and how it is viewed today. We were also treated to old film trailers, but sadly they were all not from 1971 like the Film was.
Arrive early if it is your first time because the layout is stunning. The detail on the trim and recess work starts from the floors and never stops. The paintings are beautiful and the lobby is a little funky. It’s a fun hip theater full of the trendy seeking their cinema fix.
The screen is larger than average, but not nearly as big as stadium seating theaters. The sound was amazing and each song in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory had perfect clarity. The seats are amazingly roomy and comfortable so seeing a double feature won’t be that difficult.
The food and drink comprised of traditional candy, popcorn, and soft drinks that are a tad overpriced, but not nearly as bad as other places. You can sneek in outside food, but keep it on the down low. If they see you walk in with it they will inform you outside food or drink isn’t allowed.
Planning Your Visit
-Check the website often because they sometimes post the calendar after events have already passed. The schedule is always up to date though.
-Please arrive early and purchase tickets from the box office located in front of the theater.
-Both the concessions and box office only accept cash.
-Make requests if there is a film you’d like to see. The staff is very open to suggestions.
Address: 429 Castro Street San Francisco, CA 94114
Email: [email protected]
Currency: CASH ONLY
Price Range: $7.50-$10.00
Theatre Rental: Yes
Handicap access: Yes
-MUNI Metro lines K, L, & M
-F Market streetcar
-Buslines 33, 35, 37 and 24