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On a mild February day in 1926, San Francisco theater magnate Samuel H. Levin address an anxious crowd of cinemagoers at the opening of his newest movie house. Ever the family man, Levin saw himself as a man providing entertainment for all ages. "In the New Balboa, as in all my theaters," he said, "I seek to supply the comforts and intimate surroundings associated with the higher ideals of home life."
Nearly 100 years later, the lights of the Balboa Theatre's maquee still burn against the night sky, calling patrons into a cozy cinema suffuse with classic designs pulled from the Golden Age of Hollywood. However, these historical flourishes belie the modern innovations behind the scenes. The theatre was completely overhauled in 2011, with technicians retrofitting each auditorium with state-of-the-art digital sound and projection systems.
This technological refresher helps the Balboa continue its main mission: showcasing must-see movies. These often take the form of first-run blockbusters, but the Balboa doesn't simply mimic the faceless megaplexes. Family films, motion-picture classics, and buzzed-about documentaries all find a place on the theater's twin screens, celebrating both the film world's diversity and the Balboa's original purpose.