In 2010 I saw 100 different movies in 100 different theaters. Here are the details.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

2010 Stats, Part 1: San Francisco

I've been chomping at the bit for three years to start posting year-end analysis for 2010, but I've always delayed under the belief that I should first finish with the reviews. Well phooey, I'm doing it anyway.

Inspired by my recent review of the Clay Theatre (and discovering that it showed just 20 movies in 2010, contrasted to the nearby Vogue's 69), this first analysis will look at the theater and circuit patterns in San Francisco. Why should I criticize the Clay for showing so few titles, when really it was collaborating with four other Landmark theaters to bring film to the San Francisco community. How does the Landmark network stack up against its competitors?

Note: I collected showtime data on 331 days in 2010 (~90% of the year). As this is an incomplete picture, all subsequent numbers are estimates only. IMDB was my source for daily showtimes. I'm not sure by what process IMDB receives its data, but some theaters reported inconsistently, e.g., they only reported Friday/Saturday showtimes, which would underrepresent their numbers below, or they didn't list the correct title, selecting an older title of the same thing, which would overrepresent the number of unique movies shown.

Theater Overview

I tracked 25 San Francisco venues in 2010, totaling 1,153 different movies, shown a total of 103,968 times.

CircuitTheater NameScreensNote
AMCAMC Loews Metreon 1616
AMCAMC Van Ness 1414
CinemarkCentury San Francisco Centre 99
CinemarkCinéArts @ Empire3
LandmarkEmbarcadero Center Cinema5Closed 2013 for renovation.
LandmarkOpera Plaza Cinema4
LandmarkLumiere Theatre3Closed 2012.
LandmarkBridge Theatre1Closed 2012. Review forthcoming.
LandmarkClay Theatre1
Lee Neighborhood TheatresPresidio Theatre4
Lee Neighborhood Theatres4 Star2
Lee Neighborhood TheatresMarina Theatre2Review forthcoming.
Peerless EntertainmentVogue Theatre1Now run by CinemaSF.
RegalUnited Artists Stonestown2Review forthcoming.
Sundance CinemasSundance Kabuki8
IndependentBalboa Theater2Now run by CinemaSF.
IndependentRoxie Theater2
IndependentAlliance Francaise1
IndependentCastro Theatre1
IndependentOddball Films1
IndependentRed Vic Movie House1Closed 2011.
IndependentSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art1Closed 2013 for renovation.
IndependentVictoria Theatre1
IndependentVIZ Cinema1
IndependentYerba Buena Center for the Arts1

Screens per Circuit

Nationally, the circuits with the most screens are Regal (6,729), AMC (4,612), and Cinemark (3,842). Landmark is a mere 16th, with 224 screens. In San Francisco, it's a different story. AMC still dominates the screen count with its two theaters, but Landmark is in second, above Cinemark and Regal.

4Lee Neighborhood Theatres38
7Peerless Entertainment11

Using Cinema Treasures as my rough barometer, San Francisco has hosted 151 theaters with a total of 222 screens, meaning 17% of its theaters and 39% of its screens were still in operation in 2010.

Movies per Theater Screen

There exists a wide spectrum for how each theater programs its screens. The Castro absolutely dominates, showing 299 movies on its single screen. That number blows my mind; what an incredible cultural asset to the city. I should also note that most of the data I'm missing is from January, when I was only collecting data on Fridays. For mainstream theaters, Friday showings are usually indicative of the next week's offerings, and so their movie counts are fairly accurate; the Castro, however, usually shows several different films per day, and so is probably more under-reported here than are most theaters.

VIZ Cinema, specializing in foreign animated features, comes in a surprise second.

RankCircuitTheaterMoviesScreensMovies Per Screen
1IndependentCastro Theatre2991299.0
2IndependentVIZ Cinema1061106.0
3IndependentRed Vic Movie House97197.0
4IndependentRoxie Theater147273.5
5Peerless EntertainmentVogue Theatre69169.0
6IndependentYerba Buena Center for the Arts30130.0
7IndependentBalboa Theater54227.0
8LandmarkBridge Theatre23123.0
9Lee Neighborhood Theatres4 Star41220.5
10RegalUnited Artists Stonestown38219.0
11IndependentAlliance Francaise18118.0
12LandmarkLumiere Theatre52317.3
13LandmarkEmbarcadero Center Cinema79515.8
14Lee Neighborhood TheatresMarina Theatre31215.5
15Lee Neighborhood TheatresPresidio Theatre61415.3
16Sundance CinemasSundance Kabuki117814.6
17CinemarkCinéArts @ Empire43314.3
18LandmarkClay Theatre13113.0
19CinemarkCentury San Francisco Centre 999911.0
19IndependentSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art11111.0
21LandmarkOpera Plaza Cinema3849.5
22AMCAMC Loews Metreon 16124167.8
23AMCAMC Van Ness 1473145.2
24IndependentVictoria Theatre313.0
24IndependentOddball Films313.0

Movies per Circuit Screen

If we compress the data by circuit, clumping together all the independents, we start to get a picture of how highly each circuit values variety. (Peerless, Regal, and Sundance are outliers in that they are part of a larger regional or national circuit, yet they each have but a single theater in San Francisco.) Although the Independent cluster is buoyed by the Castro's staggering numbers, they would still clock in at 38 movies per screen even without the Castro.

RankCircuitMoviesScreensMovies per Screen
1Peerless Entertainment69169.0
4Lee Neighborhood Theatres133816.6

*Doesn't sum the column, to avoid double counting movies exhibited by multiple circuits.

Regal surprises me; nationally, it's a mainstream circuit, but in San Francisco it shows independent film, and at a higher per-screen rate than does Landmark. Landmark bests the other two dominant circuits, Cinemark and AMC.

AMC, though last in movies per screen, is third (just behind Landmark and the Castro) for number of unique movies shown.

Unique Movies per Circuit

Treating each independent as its own circuit, how many movies did each circuit show that were unique to that circuit (i.e., no other circuit showed that movie)?

RankCircuitUnique MoviesTheaters
1Castro Theatre268
2Roxie Theater128
3Landmark116Bridge Theatre, Clay Theatre, Embarcadero Center, Lumiere Theatre, Opera Plaza Cinema
4VIZ Cinema102
5AMC62AMC Loews Metreon, AMC Van Ness 14
6Red Vic Movie House56
7Peerless Entertainment37Vogue Theatre
8Yerba Buena Center for the Arts29
9Cinemark28Century San Francisco Centre 9, CinéArts @ Empire
10Alliance Francaise18
11Lee Neighborhood Theatres164 Star, Marina Theatre, Presidio Theatre
12Sundance Cinemas12Sundance Kabuki
13San Francisco Museum of Modern Art11
14Regal10United Artists Stonestown
15Balboa Theater9
16Victoria Theatre3
17Oddball Films2

This answers my original question, showing that although the Clay might not be showing very many different movies, it is part of a circuit that showed more than a hundred movies that noone else did.

Showings per Theater Screen

Continuing from the previous section, it's not that AMC isn't exhibiting a variety of movies, it's just that they are spreading them out over many screens, and they are maxing out those screens, keeping the reels spinning all day long. This gives viewers more flexibility in terms of when they can watch those movies, either by time of day or day of week.

RankCircuitTheaterShowingsScreensShowings per Screen
1AMCAMC Van Ness 1421,540141,539
2AMCAMC Loews Metreon 1623,062161,441
3IndependentBalboa Theater2,83421,417
4CinemarkCentury San Francisco Centre 912,62191,402
5LandmarkEmbarcadero Center Cinema6,76351,353
6Lee Neighborhood Theatres4 Star2,48821,244
7Lee Neighborhood TheatresMarina Theatre2,47521,238
8RegalUnited Artists Stonestown2,45721,229
9Peerless EntertainmentVogue Theatre1,19711,197
10Sundance CinemasSundance Kabuki9,24381,155
11CinemarkCinéArts @ Empire3,27631,092
12Lee Neighborhood TheatresPresidio Theatre4,07641,019
13LandmarkBridge Theatre1,01711,017
14LandmarkOpera Plaza Cinema4,05841,015
15LandmarkLumiere Theatre2,6453882
16LandmarkClay Theatre8651865
17IndependentCastro Theatre8551855
18IndependentRed Vic Movie House7691769
19IndependentRoxie Theater1,1142557
20IndependentVIZ Cinema5171517
21IndependentYerba Buena Center for the Arts37137
22IndependentSan Francisco Museum of Modern Art27127
23IndependentAlliance Francaise26126
24IndependentVictoria Theatre313
24IndependentOddball Films313

AMC leads this category, averaging 1,539 showings per screen over the year. That's 4.6 showings per screen per day.

The Balboa sneaks in with the big dogs, keeping the projection booth hot more than any other theater of comparable size.

Days per Movie per Theater

I'm valuing variety (more movies are better) and flexibility (more showings are better). But what about longevity? The typical movie goer will only visit the theater a few times a year; they don't care that the Castro shows 299 different movies throughout the year, because they are looking at just one or two Friday nights in particular. And for a filmgoer who wants to see a specific movie, but doesn't have flexibility in when they can go, it doesn't matter if the theater shows the movie a hundred times during the one week they're away camping. (Extraordinary Measures was an extreme example of this: both the Van Ness 14 and San Francisco Centre 9 debuted the movie with 5-8 showings per day. Fifteen days later, it was gone from both theaters, from San Francisco, and from the entire Bay Area.)

So another ideal is to hold over a movie for a long period of time. If the movie is worth seeing, filmgoers will have maximum opportunity to find a convenient time to see it. How many days does each theater retain a typical title?

RankTheaterDays (Mean)Days (Median)Longest Held (Days - Title)
1AMC Loews Metreon 1623.721114 - Inception
1AMC Van Ness 1421.92178 - The Social Network
3Sundance Kabuki20.41775 - Crazy Heart
4Marina Theatre18.81646 - The Social Network
5Century San Francisco Centre 918.41582 - Alice in Wonderland
6United Artists Stonestown16.71475 - The Kids Are All Right
6Presidio Theatre15.61462 - The Town
6CinéArts @ Empire14.01441 - Inception
6Clay Theatre16.01436 - Please Give
10Balboa Theater13.61380 - Remembering Playland At The Beach
10Opera Plaza Cinema14.61378 - The Hurt Locker
10Embarcadero Center Cinema18.51362 - The Ghost Writer
134 Star11.11038 - Get Him to the Greek
14Lumiere Theatre11.4845 - Flickan som lekte med elden (The Girl Who Played With Fire)
15Bridge Theatre10.6757 - The Kids Are All Right
16VIZ Cinema3.3216 - The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
16Red Vic Movie House2.328 - Sweethearts of the Prison Rodeo
17Roxie Theater4.21103 - Exit Through the Gift Shop
17Vogue Theatre5.6133 - The Social Network
17Castro Theatre1.4125 - Alice in Wonderland
17San Francisco Museum of Modern Art2.4116 - Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol
17Alliance Francaise1.316 - L'armee du crime (Army of Crime)
17Yerba Buena Center for the Arts1.214 - Trash Humpers
17Oddball Films1.011 - [various]
17Victoria Theatre1.011 - [various]

Not only does AMC show many different titles per year, but they also hold them over the longest. Both AMC theaters retain a typical title for three weeks. The Metreon also has the record for retaining a movie the longest, giving filmgoers almost four months to come see the excellent Inception.

Small multi-screen theaters have the same flexibility as the larger theaters; the Balboa was able to dedicate one of its two screens to Remembering Playland at the Beach for more than two months, while the other screen rotated in new movies every two weeks. Single-screen theaters, in contrast, have to choose between variety and longevity. The Castro exhibited Alice in Wonderland for nearly a month, but most of its movies disappear after but a single night.

I had criticized the Clay for showing only a third as many movies on its single screen as did the Vogue. The above table makes it appear that the Vogue was cycling movies in and out every day, while the Clay retained each movie for two weeks. Whereas the Castro really does churn through movies that quickly, the Vogue's numbers are being thrown off by its few festivals.

In the below chart, I exclude all movies that were shown only a single time at the theater. This reduces the Castro from 299 movies to just 18, while the AMC theaters remain relatively unscathed. Now the Vogue and Clay are closer together, with only a day separating their typical movie time. This doesn't exactly come out in the Clay's favor, though, as the two charts demonstrate that the Vogue is able to match the Clay for longevity, yet still squeeze in triple the variety.

RankTheaterDays (Mean)Days (Median)Unique Movies
1AMC Loews Metreon 1626.822.0126
1AMC Van Ness 1424.722.0152
3Century San Francisco Centre 921.221.090
4Marina Theatre19.319.033
5Sundance Kabuki20.617.0116
5CinéArts @ Empire17.217.057
7San Francisco Museum of Modern Art16.016.01
8Embarcadero Center Cinema21.114.069
8United Artists Stonestown17.214.037
8Clay Theatre16.014.020
8Presidio Theatre15.814.074
8Balboa Theater14.914.054
13Opera Plaza Cinema15.313.091
13Vogue Theatre12.313.028
15Bridge Theatre13.211.025
154 Star11.911.073
17Lumiere Theatre11.910.087
18Roxie Theater7.86.075
18Alliance Francaise6.06.01
20Castro Theatre7.25.018
21VIZ Cinema4.83.065
22Red Vic Movie House2.62.0109
22Yerba Buena Center for the Arts2.42.05
24Oddball Films0
24Victoria Theatre0

Visits per Theater

You can click through to my reviews to determine which of these theaters is my favorite. But what isn't represented by the narrow scope of this blog is how much I have favored various theaters since moving to the Bay Area in 1995. The below table identifies how many times (as of writing this post) I've visited each San Francisco theater, including a few that were closed long before I began this blog. These numbers are underreported for visits prior to 2003 when I began more rigorously retaining my ticket stubs.

1Sundance Kabuki31
2AMC Van Ness 1423
3Coronet Theatre12Closed 2005.
4Embarcadero Center Cinema7Closed 2013 for renovation.
5Century San Francisco Centre 95
5Presidio Theatre5
5UA Galaxy5Closed 2005.
8AMC Loews Metreon 164
8Opera Plaza Cinema4
8Regency I & II4Closed 1998.
11Bridge Theatre3Closed 2012.
11Castro Theatre3
11Lumiere Theatre3Closed 2012.
14Alexandria Theatre2Closed 2004.
14Alhambra2Closed sometime after 1996.
14Balboa Theater2
14CinéArts @ Empire2
14Clay Theatre2
14San Francisco Museum of Modern Art2Closed 2013 for renovation.
14United Artists Stonestown2
21Marina Theatre1
21Red Vic Movie House1Closed 2011.
21Roxie Theater1
21Victoria Theatre1
21Vogue Theatre1
21Yerba Buena Center for the Arts1
274 Star0
27Alliance Francaise0
27Oddball Films0
27VIZ Cinema0

Closing Comments

I doubt I'll dive this deep on any other single city in the Bay Area, because no other Bay Area city offers this much variety. I might do some regional comparison (e.g., East Bay vs. South Bay), but these are more arbitrary in how I draw the boundary, and will undoubtably favor the more urban areas. But you can look forward to more analyses like this, as I have a long list of interesting ways to slice the data.

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