San Francisco Chronicle
CGV movie theater on Van Ness closing soon
The CGV San Francisco, a 14-screen movie theater on Van Ness Avenue, will become the latest Bay Area theater to close.
An employee of the theater told The Chronicle that the facility, located at 1000 Van Ness, would cease operations on Feb. 28, a casualty of a challenging environment for movie theaters and a drastic rise in rent.
The employee spoke on condition of anonymity, in accordance with The Chronicle’s policy, because the person was not authorized to speak on behalf of CGV America, which operates three theaters in the United States for parent company CJ CGV, a South Korean company that is the fifth-largest movie chain globally.
CGV America CEO Kim Min Kyu later confirmed the closure to The Chronicle on Monday, Feb. 20. CGV San Francisco has 20 employees, who will be laid off. The staff was informed Friday, Feb. 17, of the closure.
“They’re a really big company,” the CGV employee said. “They make their own movies. They’re in the music business, they’re pretty broad in what they do. Most businesses would have been gone a long time ago. I’m surprised we didn’t close sooner.”
CGV will be the second Bay Area movie theater to close this month after the Regal UA Berkeley, which shut down as part of a financial restructuring by Regal Cinemas parent company Cineworld after it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September.
CGV, which opened in San Francisco in September 2021, filled the space vacated by the AMC Van Ness in February 2019. AMC had converted the 1921 Don Lee Building into a movie theater in 1998.
But as audiences were slow to return to moviegoing after
theaters went dark for months at the onset of the pandemic, CGV never established a foothold in the San Francisco market. The employee said that the busiest the theater got was during the recent holiday season for the release of last year’s blockbuster “Avatar: The Way of Water,” with some 500 people per weekend day at its peak.
The employee said the theater experienced its lowest point on Monday, Feb. 13, when 18 ticket buyers attended movies at CGV.
In addition, the employee said, the rent charged by owner SITE Centers Corp., a publicly traded real estate investment trust based in Beachwood, Ohio, rose from $265,000 a month to $300,000 beginning Jan. 1.
“I think that was the real deal-breaker for them,” the employee said. “The bottom line is audiences haven’t returned to the movies.”
A call to a spokesperson for SITE Centers was not returned Monday.
Marlayne Morgan, co-founder of the Van Ness Corridor Coalition, which was involved with negotiations to bring CGV into the Don Lee building, told The Chronicle she was disheartened to hear that the theater would shut down, particularly since the completion of the Van Ness Improvement Project in 2022 was expected to help businesses after years of disruption.
“The opening of the Van Ness (Bus Rapid Transit corridor) has had a very positive impact both on transportation and public safety, and can easily support more riders to attend performing arts events along the corridor,” Morgan said. “It is very disappointing to have this large venue at Van Ness and O’Farrell close down. … We hope it is still possible for them to reverse this decision before Feb. 28.”