Historic Castro Theatre opening to live events

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The new owners of the San Francisco’s Castro Theatre announced it will host live entertainment, which has excited some and concerned others.

Angela Jia '25, Staff Reporter

The Castro Theatre is a beloved landmark rich in history, located in San Francisco’s Castro District. It was family owned by the Nasser brothers for more than a century.

For decades, it has hosted film events ranging from movies, film festivals, and other special events including the SF International Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and the SF International Asian American Film Festival. Notably, all those events are in film. 

That’s why the news of Another Planet Entertainment (APE) partnering with the owners in order to open up to live events has been met with mixed reactions by the San Francisco film community. 

Some, like Marisa Hamilton ‘22, who is a member of the Drama Club, think it’s good that the Theater is opening up to live events. She says, “With a lot of theater companies, including Broadway shutting down due to COVID-19, I think it will be very beneficial for actors, singers, and dancers. It’s been really difficult for them to find spaces to create and share their craft, with the industry already being competitive on its own.”

Others, like Ms. Pierucci, Riordan’s Drama Director, aren’t as pleased. “I feel like traditionally because it’s such a historic space it should be respected and maintained as the historic space as it is. However, as change is the only constant, what we can hope for is that they will maintain certain aspects of the traditions and historical use of the space while implementing new projects.”

According to the Castro Theater website, “APE is now the proud new operator and exclusive promoter of the iconic theater (…).” The new company plans to upgrade it to a live music and events venue after a year-long makeover. 

APE CEO Greg Perloff said that they “…don’t want to change the historic nature of the theater. (…) And so, what they’ve historically done, we want to do a lot of that. We also want to add to it by doing other things.” 

However, he has been tight lipped in answering questions about the theater’s future, stating publicly that “I don’t have all the answers yet.” Perloff assures that “I’ve spent a lot of time dealing with old theaters (…) in order to be successful (…) you can’t just do one thing.”

Despite these assurances, some longtime residents still oppose the new management. Those who have grown up on the Castro’s movies fear that the theater won’t be centralizing on films anymore, stripping away what the Castro Theatre is known for, and that APE won’t be keeping its promise that movies and films will still be shown. 

San Francisco State humanities Professor Mary Scott said, “I just worry that the everyday programming will be gone.”

In any case, the Castro Theater opening to live events is certainly an anticipated event itself.