“Go digital or go dark” – Balboa needs to raise $75k to digitize theaters

Last week, Cassava Bakery on Balboa raised $30,000 with their Kickstarter campaign for an outdoor, heated patio. This week the call for donations is coming from their neighbor down the street, the Balboa Theater.

The Balboa Theater has seen its share of ups and downs since it opened in 1926. In 2011, the San Francisco Neighborhood Theater Foundation took over the Balboa’s lease and prevented it from having to close its doors. And it’s made improvements along the way – an upgraded marquee, new seats, new heaters, and a renewed flair for programming.

But the biggest improvement is still to come, and that’s why the theater is reaching out to the community for financial support. The Balboa has great Dolby sound, but it doesn’t have digital projection, which is the way the movie industry is moving. Soon, new releases will only be distributed digitally to theaters and if the Balboa doesn’t upgrade, they won’t be able to screen the films. That means lost revenue and the inability to compete with other, more modern theaters in the city.

It costs $75,000 to convert a single theater to digital, and that is the amount the Balboa Theater is trying raise via their Kickstarter campaign which ends on Friday, September 27.

Why contribute to the Balboa Theater? I can tell you our reason – because it is the quintessential neighborhood theater. It not only shows mainstream releases, but it also screens locally made documentaries about Richmond District history, hosts fundraiser sing-a-longs for charity organizations, offers Popcorn Palace Saturday morning movies during the summer for kids, gives free viewing parties on their big screen for the Oscars, Superbowl, and Golden Globes…the lists go on and on.

They care about the community and offer great programming – ranging from the latest Batman movie to rock documentaries.

And in case you’re thinking “a donation?!?”, know that your Kickstarter contribution to the effort comes with a reward. Depending on how much you give, you’ll come away with movie passes, popcorn, your name on a theater seat or donor wall in the lobby, or tickets to a dinner and movie celebration. Plus the warm, fuzzy feeling you get when you contribute to your own community. 😉

To contribute, visit the Balboa’s Kickstarter page. They have to receive the full $75,000 in pledges by the deadline, otherwise the campaign is null and void. They’re already raised $11k+, so they’re on their way.

If you want to keep the Balboa from going dark, this is your chance to help.

Good luck Balboa Theater!

Sarah B.


  1. For all of us who have appreciated that stretch of Balboa please donate if you can. The Balboa is a cornerstone of that neighborhood. With cool new businesses like Cassava coming in as well as other institutions like Simple Pleasure we should try to cultivate that little section of the hood and keep it going. Imagine how sad it would look if the Balboa was just a giant, empty building. And Popcorn Palace is awesome for kids and grown ups. I’ve seen a number of movies with my kids that I’d never seen on the big screen before. It’s a great theatre.

  2. I don’t go to many movies, but I will definitely contribute to this worthy cause. Not only is the Balboa a “diamond” business in the Richmond, but the owners and the folks who work there really love movies, and their programming is creative (for example, on what would have been Julia Child’s 100th b-day, moviegoers attending the opening of Julie/Julia could get in free if they brought a dessert (many people brought home-backed cakes and cupcakes, and everyone got to sample the desserts after the movie was over. Plus: a raffle prize was Julia’s famous cookbook. No soul-less big box theatres would sponsor something fun like that!

  3. I like this cinema. I don’t get there often, but it’s a stinky, family, neighborhood joint that I’d rather patronize than the mega-monster-plexs.

  4. i go to the movies on average once a year, but i’d hate to see this leave the hood. i am gonna contribute.

  5. I just donated $50 – took all of 2 minutes. I for one will forward this on to others in the neighborhood. Besides the chance to keep a great local business around, for $50 you receive 2 tickets and 2 popcorns (roughly $40 at the Metreon as it is).

  6. Everyone, get on board and donate to Kickstarter campaign. I walk over a couple times a month, depending on what’s showing, and my son just gave me 10 passes for my birthday. Everyone there is great and their community outreach specials are just that.

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