Duval County

San Marco Theatre closing, staff says ‘the movie industry has seen dramatic changes since COVID’

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The San Marco Theatre first opened its doors in 1938. For 84 and a half years, it stood the test of time.

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“I mean honestly, like look at it. It’s an iconic build,” said visitor Michelle Vidal.

“The architecture is absolutely beautiful,” she added.

Unfortunately, the business model couldn’t withstand a changing landscape, bringing competition from streaming platforms.

Now, it’s losing for good on new years day.

In a statement shared on Facebook, the San Marco Theatre team said, “We all have lots of memories of this place. And we’ll miss it.”

Here is the full statement released by the San Marco Theatre Team:

“Dear Friends & Neighbors, after eighty-four and a half years, the San Marco Theatre will permanently close its doors on New Year’s Day. It’s with sad and heavy hearts that we share this news with our San Marco community and the city of Jacksonville. We all have a lot of memories of this place. We’ll miss it. The movie industry has seen dramatic changes since COVID. Theatrical release models for studios shifted primarily to streaming. The movie theatre business was not a very profitable endeavor before COVID. Now, when potential patrons are flooded with new releases on a dozen different streaming services it seems like the movie theatre experience is quickly going the way of Blockbuster Video. Nationally, theatre attendance is down over 30% compared to before COVID. The San Marco Theatre has fared the same. The San Marco Theatre occupies a warm place in a lot of people’s hearts, ours included. Thank you all so much for your patronage.”

That sentiment also holds true for everyone who got a chance to visit throughout its many years.

Vidal, for one, still remembers her last trip vividly.

“I must’ve been like 11 years old,” she recalled. “We watched clueless in the theater, like when it first came out, like, a life-changing movie for me from the 90′s. It was such a lovely memory.”

And it brings up a few things for locals like Alex.

“Good food, good service, and overall just an awesome experience,” he said. “You kinda feel like you’re at home.”

There are signs which let people know the theater is open but on its WEBSITE, there are no showings scheduled past December 31.

Even though the theater will close, the property company which manages this building, TSG Realty, says it will always have that familiar look.

“You don’t see theaters like this anymore,” Vidal emphasized. “You don’t get that from your couch.”

“It has such a cool look and it’s such a standout on the strip,” Alex echoed.

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Prior to the theatre announcing the closing, TSG Realty, the theatre’s property company, said in part:

“The operators are trying VERY hard to make the business work but it is a very, very difficult business environment for small movie theatres after COVID due to streaming services. The landlord loves the building and the façade, it will always look like the San Marco Theatre.”

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