The age demographic of San Francisco is rapidly changing. Restaurants, bars, entertainment venues are jammed with people under 40 these days because of the tech industry. They have transformed many areas of the city, notably along Divisadero, in the Mission and south of Market, where most of the new money has shifted into 21st century high-density housing. It continues to grow with startling luster. Check out the scene at the Chase Center, where maybe 1 in 20 persons is over 50. These are the folks with disposable incomes. These are also the folks who will save the Castro for the next 100 years, albeit in a vastly different business model. Film festivals will have to do with the smaller venues like the Roxie, where Don and Elliot Levine have had some success mounting focused, eclectic programs.
Even with packed houses, there is no way APE -- if it were so inclined long-term -- could come close to matching the revenue selling festival movie tickets at $10-$15 a seat at the Castro as compared to just about any concert, where the low-end ticket might be $50 and premiun "VIP" seating can now run up to four figures. I still attend a lot of concerts and I see what APE has done at the Oakland Fox and Berkeley's Greek Theater. They also make a mint selling all forms of alcohol, something not really conducive at a movie event beyond a glass of beer or wine. It's a cynical way to view it, but APE isn't in this to be a community partner. They're in it to make major profit.
Another thing: While there is still some romance to watching a 35mm classic in a cavernous old theater, so much has changed just in the time of the film noir revival starting roughly in the mid-1990s. So many films have been restored for home viewing since then -- practically the whole of the genre -- and our viewing platforms are so much better now. Nobody who wasn't a millionaire owned a 50-inch flat screen with a sound bar in 2005, so the idea of seeing film noir on the big screen had significant appeal. Now virtually anyone can have the theater experience in their home because the screens are even bigger now with better sound, while the blu-ray, 4K and streaming options are virtually unlimited, and you might get a commentary and some extras to boot. I liked the films but there's a lot I don't miss about theater crowds.
The writing is on the wall for movie houses, at least in the conventional sense. A lot of folks just don't want to read it or believe it. Many cities are coping with these changes, where former movie houses are now becoming thriving music venues. Check out the Paramount and Moore theaters in Seattle, the University in Berkeley, there's probably an example in every major city. How many movies is SF's own Warfield -- once a Fox movie house -- now showing? None in recent memory. Even Hollywood's Cinerama, while set to reopen in 2022, appears to be looking for a new way to do it, with the hope of alcohol in all forms to be served and possibly even dining. There isn't a clear picture yet how that will take shape other than reopening plans are now delayed.
Lastly, then there's this thing called COVID, which is still with us and could be for who knows how long. Young people aren't afraid of the risks of large indoor crowds because the chance of dying from it if they get it isn't significant ... for them. Us types over 55? Um, let's just cue up the ol' blu-ray player for the time being. Popcorn that doesn't cost $10. Nobody sneezing or farting or fiddling with candy wrappers behind me.