The oldest continuously operating movie theater in San Francisco, the Roxie opened its doors as the C. H. Brown Theater in 1909, and was owned and operated as the Poppy Theater from 1912 to 1916 by Philip H. Doll, a local jeweler and watchmaker.
The 300-seat theater was renovated in 1933, changed its name to The Roxie, and added its unusual marquee with neon sign but no place for movie titles. In 2003, a 49-seat theater dubbed the Little Roxie opened two doors from the main theater.
Other names for the theater:
- The Poppy 1912-1916
- The New 16th Street 1916-1920
- The Rex 1920-1926
- The Gem 1926-1930
- The Gaiety 1930-1933
- The Roxie 1933–present
In the late 1960s with the decline of its neighborhood, The Roxie became a pornography theater. In March 1976, community leaders Robert Christopher Evans, Dick Gaikowski, Peter Moore, and Tom Mayer bought the Roxie, remodeled it, and turned it into an art and independent film center. On 1–15 November 1979, the Roxie hosted the U.S. premiere of Luis Buñuel's L'Âge d'Or (1930), a film that had been banned for almost 50 years. Over the years, the Roxie has been home to many film festivals such as the Frameline Film Festival, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the Arab Film Festival, SF Indiefest, and many others.
On December 26, 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that the Roxie had agreed to be acquired by New College of California, a small liberal arts college also based in the Mission District. New College agreed to pay off the Roxie's debts and to pay salaries of Roxie employees going forward. The Roxie became part of New College's Media Studies Program on January 1, 2006, and was renamed the "Roxie Film Center at New College".
On February 26, 2008, New College announced it was closing, thus ending its support of the Roxie. After New College’s collapse, a private investor purchased the Roxie and established it as a not-for-profit, committed to remaining a critical and historical center for film, culture, and contemporary practices in the direct community, nationally, and internationally.
Today the Roxie operates:
- A 1,700 sq. ft. marquee theater that seats 238; and
- A storefront theater and installation space (the "Little Roxie") that seats 48.
In addition to film, the Roxie has expanded its reach to include visual arts and literary programming, live music, and theater performances.
The theatre also is home to Roxie Releasing, an independent film distributor most notably responsible for the 30th anniversary re-release of George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead. Roxie Releasing specializes in documentaries.
- Roxie Theater website
- Article on the Roxie by Roger Rose in CineSource September 4, 2008
- Facebook page