Boutique Cinemas Veer Toward the Nonprofit Scene

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By Ian Sherr

Some of San Francisco’s boutique movie theaters have found a new way to boost revenue: become a nonprofit or rely on financial support from nonprofit groups.

In recent years, the Roxie Theater has become a nonprofit, while the Balboa Theatre and the Vogue Theatre have started using more dollars from a nonprofit organization for maintenance and upgrades. Of the roughly 20 movie theaters in the city, about half aren’t part of a theater chain, according to theater executives.

The Roxie became a nonprofit in 2008 after its owner, the New College of California, shut down. Today, benefit events and a new membership program have helped drive the theater’s growth. Its nonprofit status has also allowed it to more easily apply for grants to help bolster its operating budget.

The Roxie rang up sales of about $510,000 last year, up from about $430,000 four years ago. Donations and membership fees helped its operating budget grow to about $750,000.

 

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(Published Sept. 12, 2012, in The Wall Street Journal.)