“Star Wars: the Force Awakens” opens Dec. 17 at 2550 Mission St. Opening weekend is sold out. (415) 549-5959. www.drafthouse.com/sf
Excerpt SF Chronicle
The New Mission Theater will finally open Thursday after four years and $10 million to make this 100-year-old movie palace into a 21st century multiplex.
The premiere of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” is billed as a “midnight screening” but it actually shows at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. because those are the cocktail and dinner hours; and cocktails and dinner are what the new New Mission is all about.
Before the lights go down, theater No. 1 will operate as a 320-seat restaurant and bar with a full menu, table service and ordering by open outcry. After the lights go down, it will get more interesting because dinner and drinks will continue right on through the show, with a silent ordering service. Instead of barking down a waiter, you order by taking a pen and card from your table, reading a menu by a small light, filling out a card and placing it in a stand, like a flag.
There will be music movies on Monday nights, horror on Tuesdays, exploitation on Wednesdays, and a monthly night dedicated to “chick flicks.” But the true test of the New Mission’s “dinner and a movie” concept will be nights where dinner is exactly what is being eaten in the movie.
Tickets, whether online reserved or cash at the box office, are $13.25 for adults, which is 75 cents more than the Embarcadero Center Cinema charges, and there you can reserve a recliner guaranteed to put you to sleep, plus free parking if you do your sleeping there at night.
The marketing of the New Mission as “a neighborhood movie theater.” There will be valet parking for bicycles, and the people who arrive by car are presumably being dropped off by Uber. No cash changes hands, which is also how the New Mission is set up. Tickets can be bought through a free app.
The New Mission opened in 1911 as the Idle Hour, a narrow theater on the west side of Mission between 21st and 22nd streets. In 1916, the original theater became an entrance lobby to the New Mission, a 2,000-seat theater that sits on Bartlett alley, behind the Mission Street storefronts. In the 1920s the outer lobby, marquee and distinctive 70-foot blade were updone in the Art Deco style by architect Timothy Pflueger.
The lobby, the marquee, the balustrade and the decor in the auditorium are all city landmarks and have been restored to their original luster. That took some doing because the place has been trashed by one use after another since the last movie ran in 1993.
Six years after that, Foreign Cinema opened next door, offering films outdoors as a restaurant gimmick. But the only real movie theater in the Mission is the 234-seat Roxie, which opened at 16th and Valencia in 1909 and retains much of its primitive charm. The Roxie is a nonprofit and stays afloat from fundraiser to fundraiser, but a new executive director, Dave Cowen, was hired from the tech world two months ago to energize the old place.
Take a seat at the New Mission with programmer Mike Keegan at: http://sfchron.cl/theater