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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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