But to properly celebrate the reopening of the 4-star—and its place in Richmond’s movie theater pantheon—look no further than some sort of meta-event scheduled for Sunday, January 29 at 5 p.m. in the Richmond: 4 Star History and More,” an illustrated talk by local historian Woody LaBounty, will feature historic photos, ephemera, advertisements, and tickets to create a virtual tour through the neighborhood’s past and present by cinema material.

“When I was a kid in Richmond, I had seven theaters to choose from that I could effortlessly walk to,” says LaBounty. “So I could see 10 movies any day I wanted. There was kind of a wealthy congregation of movie theaters — more than almost any neighborhood.

Here, LaBounty specifies “neighborhood” movie theaters as something special — a distinctly different experience than the larger theaters in downtown San Francisco. What makes the Richmond stand out more, he says, is that it has some of the last surviving screens.

Black and white image of a large crowd in front of a movie theater
The Coliseum Theater when it opened in 1918 at Clement and 9th Avenue. More recently it was the site of a Walgreens. (Courtesy of Woody LaBounty)

LaBounty’s conference will include the Palm nickelodeon (formerly of 6th and Clement), the Coronet, the Egyptian-themed Alexandria, the Balboa and the 4 Star, which opened in 1913 as La Bonita. His material comes from more than 20 years of research — he is a co-founder of the Western Neighborhoods Project and writes a weekly column on the city’s history on SanFranciscoStory.com.

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