The future of the Castro Theatre as an almost-full-time movie house is in question, but for the short term, the SFFILM Festival will still be screening there this year from April 21-May 1.
Last week's bombshell news that the Castro Theatre would be managed by Another Planet Entertainment, which is a concert promoter and not a movie house proprietor, has film buffs wondering if the theater would ever even show movies anymore.
In the long run, we can't know what the movie schedule will look like at the theater in the coming years, following a planned and sure-to-be-expensive interior upgrade. (Another Planet's CEO Gregg Perloff tells Hoodline this week that there could be a whole lot of nights that won't have events scheduled at the Castro that could be free for movie screenings, but showing old or indie movies won't work "if 12 people show up to a film.")
But in the short run, we do at least know this much: The San Francisco International Film Festival now known as SFFILM will be returning to the Castro in 2022, and has announced its dates of April 21 – May 1, 2022.
“The 65th SFFILM Festival takes place April 21–May 1 at venues across the Bay Area including the historic and beloved Castro Theatre!,” SFFILM said in the Facebook announcement above. “Festival Ticket Packs are on sale now at early bird prices for a limited time.”
(Those Festival Ticket Packs $95 for six-pack of tickets, and $140 for a ten-pack of tickets, with reduced prices for members. None of the films have been announced yet, but the repertoire is always outstanding.)
The SFFILM festival has traditionally been spread out at about a half dozen or more different Bay Area theaters, but with the Castro generally serving as the venue for Opening Night, Closing Night, and many of the festival’s highest-profile events. The fact that SFFILM is coming back to the Castro this year is an encouraging sign that other annual film festivals will continue at the theater — and Another Planet has already said that this year's Frameline is already on the books.
But those festivals have a built-in audience and marketing apparatus, and can reliably pack the 1,400-seat house. Regular, everyday repertory film screenings at the Castro often draw maybe a couple dozen people, at best.
Hoodline's interview with Perloff on the future of the Castro as a movie house is a must-read for everyone who's concerned. "There's a difference between these big festivals that go into the Castro and some of the smaller repertory films,” Perfloff told Hoodline. And even if the theater hosts more than 100 concerts over the course of a year, "That leaves you over 230 days for film," he said.
But this will be driven by the market, Perloff says — marking a call to action for cinema buffs to put their money where their mouths are as APE takes over.
"The public will eventually dictate what they want to see at the Castro Theatre," says Perloff. "If people want to see repertory film, they're going to see it."
Related: Negative Reactions Continue to News About Castro Theatre Changes, While Actual Details Remain Scarce [SFist]