Bringing The Fox Theater Back to Life

We are thrilled to host the our 5th Annual Watsonville Film Festival at the historic Fox Theater Sep 29 - Oct 2, 2016!

Thanks to the generosity of owner theater Hank García, this year’s festival will serve as Grand Reopening of the Fox,
and a preview of the theater’s future.


As we embark in the journey of bringing this beautiful jewel back to life, we invite you to share some of your personal stories, memories and photos you may have of the Fox. Perhaps you worked at the Fox, or you had your first kiss there, perhaps you watched a movie that had a major impact in your life….

Our intent is to honor this collective history by gathering as many stories as possible, sharing them on social media and then selecting some to be published in a book. You can share these stories with us via or Watsonville Film Festival, PO Box 172, Watsonville, CA 95077.


The Fox Revival Team

Since we started the Watsonville Film Festival (WFF), our dream was to present our yearly festival at the historic Fox Theater. The cinema has been cultural crown jewel of Watsonville since it was built by prominent architect G. Albert Landsburgh in 1923.
Late in 2015 an ad-hoc team was created to support the Watsonville Film Festival initiative to run the theater as a non-profit community enterprise, presenting a rich and vibrant film program all year-round, in addition to the annual Festival.  

The team includes the owner of the building, high-level city staff, elected officials and advisors who helped re-open Del Mar Theater in Santa Cruz in 2002. 
To move forward with this project we are receiving technical support from the Stanford Alumni Consulting Team, the Santa Cruz & Monterey Community Foundations and Arts Council Santa Cruz County.

We are sincerely grateful for all of the support! If you would like to help with the Fox Renovation, you can make a donation by clicking here

History of the Fox

Photo circa 1984

Photo circa 1984

Local residents enjoyed Vaudeville, theater musical reviews and concerts with local, national and international performers at the Fox Theater since the 20s. In the 1950s and 60s, the Fox was a hub for Mexican movies and movie stars. In the 80's and 90's Fox the hosted performances by the Santa Cruz Symphony and Christmas Concerts by the Watsonville Band. In 1987, the biopic "La Bamba” directed by prominent Chicano filmmaker/playwright Luis Valdez, premiered at the Fox Theater before opening in Hollywood. Santa Cruz’s Pacific Rim Film Festival also hosted screenings here. 

This once-grand theater has gone through many changes and renovations over the years. However, much of the historic decor is still intact, including beautiful light fixtures, organ lofts and 40’s-style painted designs on the auditorium walls. 
The 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake caused a neighboring building to collapse into the Fox Theater’s grand lobby.  The venue remained closed for a couple of years for repairs.

When it reopened in 1991, a restaurant replaced the old lobby, and the main entrance was relocated from Main Street to the Maple Street side.  In 1992 the balcony was converted into two smaller movie rooms. The main auditorium currently has 450 seats. It features an enormous 20 by 40 foot screen, making it one of the largest movie screens in Santa Cruz County. Unfortunately, the Fox Theater went dark in 2009. Help us to bring it back to life by donating here.  Any amount will help restore our beautiful theater!