American Zoetrope (Sentinel Building)

The historic sentinel building has been the home of American Zoetrope since 1971. We have written, edited, and sound mixed many of our films here including Godfather I and II, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation, The Black Stallion and Rumblefish.

The Sentinel Building stands out amongst all the cement, high rises and stucco buildings — many of which show varying levels of earthquake damage. This particular building was in the middle of construction in 1906 when the Great SF Earthquake hit the city and destroyed most of it. Despite this damage, developers eventually continued construction on the building and it was completed a year later.

American Zoetrope is an independent movie studio located in the basement of the Sentinel Building, which is in North Beach, just down the hill from Little Italy and one street over from Chinatown in San Francisco. The building is now owned by Sofia Coppola but was originally purchased by Francis Ford Coppola so that he and George Lucas could create and use the studio within. Most of Lucas’ pre-Star Wars movies were made here.

The restaurant at the base of the building is Cafe Zoetrope. It’s not a gluten-free restaurant; however, the wine alone is worth a trip. All vintages sold in the restaurant come from the Francis Ford Coppola Winery. I tried the Cab and I have to say that it was quite a nice end to my day of touring and frolicking around San Francisco.

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