Commentary: Nancy DeStefanis


Tearing Out the Sloped Floor and Theater Seats would be a tragedy for San Francisco film goers

In January 2022, Another Planet Entertainment (APE) signed a lease with the owners of the Castro Theatre to bring in more revenue by converting the theatre into a music venue where patrons can dance on a flat floor with no seats.

An integral part of APE’s plan for the Castro Theatre called for folding chairs to be used on the flat floor instead of the existing sloped floor and theatre seating. Now in a new proposal released on Jan. 23 – immediately before a meeting of the Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) – they offered a motorized raked floor and motorized delivery of seats.

Since the public learned about the plan by APE to turn the theater into a music venue, the Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) has been inundated with letters and emails, and numerous folks have attended public meetings requesting that HPC landmark the sloped floor and theater seats.

At the conclusion of the HPC hearing on Feb. 1, the committee voted unanimously to recommend that the interior be included in the landmark designation. 

Next, the SF Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors will consider this landmark designation.

Please help us Keep the Castro Theatre for the community. Landmark the sloped floor and seats to ensure that it can continue as the only historic movie palace in San Francisco, as it has for the past 100 years. 

The Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors could meet in March to debate the future of the Castro Theatre. Urge them to save the sloped floor and theater seating for world-class movies, film festivals and concerts and other events.

Please write the SF Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. Email addresses at take action:


Recommended movies: 

At the 4 Star Theatre – recently renovated and reopened at 23rd Avenue and Clement Street.

“First Cow”: March 1 at 7:30 p.m. and March 2 at 5:00 p.m. 2019 Directed by Kelly Reichardt (90 min.). A taciturn loner and skilled cook have traveled west and joined a group of fur trappers in Oregon Territory, though he only finds true connection with a Chinese immigrant also seeking his fortune. Soon the two collaborate on a successful business, although its longevity is reliant upon the clandestine participation of a nearby wealthy landowner’s prized milking cow.

“Portrait of a Lady on Fire”: March 2 at 7:30 p.m. 2019, Directed by Céline Sciamma (135 min.).  On an isolated island in Brittany at the end of the eighteenth century, a female painter is obliged to paint a wedding portrait of a young woman.

For the Kids: Disney’s “Froze: March 4 and 5 at 11 a.m. 2013, Directed by Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee (123 min.).

“The Hitchhiker”: March 8 at 7:30 p.m. and March 9 at 6 p.m. 1953, co-written and Directed by Ida Lupino (75 minutes). American film noir thriller. Roy and Gilbert’s fishing trip takes a terrifying turn when the hitchhiker they pick up turns out to be a sociopath on the run from the law. He has killed before, and he lets the two know that as soon as they’re no longer useful, he’ll kill again. The two friends plot an escape, but the hitchhiker’s peculiar physical affliction, an eye that never closes even when he sleeps, makes it impossible for them to tell when they can make a break for it. Rotten Tomatoes rating of 93%.

Nancy DeStefanis graduated from Hunter College with a BA in Film History and Filmmaking. She is an avid moviegoer and watched most movies made between 1929 and 1970 on the weekly TV show “Million Dollar Movie” while growing up in Brooklyn. She has studied and written about film-noir, films of Alfred Hitchcock and silent films, including the work of Danish filmmaker Carl Theodore Dryer. Her final film at Hunter College was a feature on the 1969 Draft for the Vietnam War. As soon as she arrived in San Francisco more than 45 years ago, she started attending all the films and community events at the Castro Theatre, including Italian films, Asian films, silent films and Ukulele Day. She last visited the Castro in Dec. 2021 for the SF premiere of the first full-length silent film, “Dante’s Inferno.” The theatre was full and everyone wore masks.

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