The Orpheum and Golden Gate, Both Historic SF Theaters, Sold to UK Company

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

The interior of the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francsico.
The interior of the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francsico.  (Courtesy BroadwaySF)

The Orpheum Theatre and Golden Gate Theatre, two of San Francisco's most historic auditoriums, will be sold to the parent company of the Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), according to an announcement by ATG. The sale transfers ownership of the theaters from the Nederlander Company, based in New York. The sale price was not announced.

In recent years, the Golden Gate and Orpheum have primarily been home to touring Broadway musicals such as Les Miserables, West Side Story, Waitress, Rent, The Book Of Mormon and Phantom of The Opera. When the pandemic closed theaters nationwide, the Golden Gate had just opened Sting's musical The Last Ship, while the Orpheum hosted Hamilton. In October 2019, Madonna performed a run of concerts at the Golden Gate.

Based in the U.K., ATG is one of the largest operators of Broadway-style theaters around the globe, and the type of shows on offer at both theaters is not expected to fundamentally change. Local company BroadwaySF had been booking both theaters, following a five-year legal battle that resulted in the dissolving of the theaters' previous operator, SHN.

The currently scheduled season of bookings at the theaters, starting with Mean Girls on July 27, is expected to go on, pending local restrictions on live theater, ATG spokesperson Rick Miramontez told KQED.

The exterior of the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.
The exterior of the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. (Courtesy BroadwaySF)

After this season's dates are up, Miramontez said, booking will transfer to ATG. Miramontez said that ATG will “welcome the Broadway SF team into its family,” and is open to hiring local BroadwaySF staff. (A representative from BroadwaySF declined to comment.)


The situation is reminiscent of ATG's operation of the Curran Theatre, which hosted Harry Potter and the Cursed Child last year when the pandemic hit. ATG inherited local staff in that theater's transfer from SHN as well. Harry Potter is expected to return to a reopened Curran sometime this year.

It is “100% common” for ATG to perform renovations on theaters it acquires, Miramontez said, although it's too soon to know exactly what type of renovations might take place at the Orpheum and Golden Gate. ATG already has experience reopening theaters with mask requirements and reduced capacity in cities like London, Miramontez said.

The Golden Gate Theatre opened in 1922, and the Orpheum, just two blocks up Market Street, opened in 1926. Their purchase by ATG adds to the company's holdings of over 50 theaters around the world. “We look forward to providing the best of Broadway’s shows to their loyal following when the theaters reopen in 2021,” said ATG CEO Mark Cornell, in a statement.

Exactly when that might occur is still unknown, Miramontez said. After restaurants, museums, outdoor sports and other events reopen, he says, “we'll be the last to come back.”