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AMC Van Ness is Closing, Out of Nowhere

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The 4 story AMC movie theater on Van Ness has canceled all showtimes past Friday, Feb 8th, and apparently it’s being shut down permanently, according to a source close to theater management.

It’s no secret that AMC Van Ness 14 has struggled in the past years, the theater has felt understaffed and under-visited.  Our theory is that their practice of charging IMAX prices for that miniature ‘Imax Jr.’ theater they had, pissed so many people off over the years that it finally caught up with them (just a theory).

It probably didn’t help that last month the U.S. box office recorded its worst January performance since 2013 with a box office haul of $815M.  Many movie theaters across the country have been struggling.

AMC 14 at 1000 Van Ness opened in 1998.

AMC’s other San Francisco theaters, the Metreon and the Kabuki, show no signs of closing as far as we know, and there is no word on a new tenant at AMC Van Ness yet, the property owner is SITE Centers.  

The 1000 Van Ness street location is not without its own history, it’s home to the ‘Don Lee building’, a former Cadillac dealership that was built in 1921 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.  Many remember when that strip of Van Ness was known as San Francisco’s ‘Auto Row’, because it was full of car dealerships, that’s why so many of those buildings have large ‘showroom’ style front windows.  Take a little stroll down memory row:

Van Ness Avenue south at Eddy Street, with Auto Row well established in this 1929 photo.  Photo: SF Public Library

Interior of Don Lee Cadillac showroom (now AMC Theaters).
Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

Rambler dealer, Van Ness Avenue, August 1964, just across the way from 1000 Van ness  Photo: SF Public Library

Crowd cheering civil rights employment settlement with auto dealers, 1964.
Photo: San Francisco History Center, SF Public Library

The building is also part of San Francisco’s history of protest.  On April 11th 1964, the Cadillac Auto-Row protests and sit-ins, on San Francisco’s Van Ness Avenue.  Where San Franciscans demanded equal hiring practices and wages for African American workers by the Auto industry. There were protests across the city in 1963 and 64, many targeting industries, and demanding workers rights and equality.

Protesters inside the Cadlillac dealership on Van Ness Ave. in San Francisco in 1964. (Phiz Mezey)

Bay Areans picketed and held a mass march into the Cadillac dealership (housed in the Don Lee Cadillac Building) and sit-downs, protestors singing civil rights songs inside and discussions between police and organizers about what constitutes resisting arrest.

For footage of the protest check the video out here! (via SFSU)

It includes views of Dr Thomas (Nat) Burbridge organizing protestors and mass arrests by the police.  Don’t you just love SF History?

Hat tip to BAS reader Nancy Arms, for inspiring a little bit of research on the history of Autorow for this article.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

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  1. Dave Holmes-Kinsella
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    I was at AMC Kabuki yesterday —
    * prices for concessions appear to be up
    * public areas – elevators and so on – are very grody. They’ve obviously had no janitorial support in a long time
    * no more cafe food service; which had been a HUGE part of the value premise of Kabuki
    * 24 minutes of previews — which I didn’t mind — and not sure if that’s a new feature there or not

    So, they’re obviously cut back on operational costs.

  2. Bob Plissken
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Damn, I think Van Ness was the last theater where you could decide on a last minute / day before trip to see a new movie, due to their lack of seat reservations. Reserved seats are usually great if you plan weeks ahead, but any short notice trip dooms you to terrible seats on the sides or way too close to the screen.

  3. sfo2cnx
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    Ticket prices are the main reason I don’t go to the cinema anymore. For me, watching movies on a large screen TV with good sound at home with my favorite snacks that don’t cost an arm and a leg makes home viewing through one of the on-line services more appealing than schlepping down to Metreon or wherever. IMAX in 3D is great but even the people producing movies in that format are finding it too expensive to do so. Just give me a good script and well acted movie at home; That’s all I want.

  4. matthewnot
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    The reported bed bug problem a few years ago is probably another contributing factor.

  5. ThatAddamsGirl
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    If you have ever seen one of the theatres with the lights fully lit, you’d turn around and leave. Search the words carmike dirty theatres and you’ll see this is across a lot of their venues. I haven’t set foot in the AMC 1000 Van Ness in many years. The last time I was at a movie at 1000 Van Ness, hardly anyone was in attendance, someone got up and urinated at the front against the wall next to the screen. It was the same day I had a jacket soiled by something sticky against the back of the seat and they wouldn’t escalate the issue to the manager. “We can give you free movie passes to cover the cost that a professional laundry would charge to remove the stains.”

  6. hal
    April 20, 2020 at 11:05 am

    The landlords raised the rent. Anyways, you can enjoy the tiny crapass screens at Alamo, which btw has no IMAX.