About

The Biggest Little Theater in Wine Country

Theater's owner and Creative Director, Cathy Buck

Community-Based, Mission-Driven

St. Helena's Cameo Cinema is a single-screen movie theater committed to fostering an appreciation for cinema’s cultural heritage and producing exemplary theatrical experiences. The Cameo brings international, independent, and critically acclaimed films to the Napa Valley.  Our mission is to foster a vibrant sense of community through the film-going experience.

Presenting tomorrow’s cinema experience, today

Founded in 1913, St. Helena’s Cameo Cinema is California's oldest continuously operated single-screen movie theater.  Today, this 140 seat movie theater remains an integral part of the Napa Valley experience and lifestyle.  Over the past thirteen years, owner Cathy Buck has infused this classic ‘movie palace’ with Napa Valley’s legendary style and hospitality.  With her pioneering spirit she has brought the theater into the 21st Century, installing the latest innovative cinema technology and crafting a world-class film experience, equal to any great movie house, anywhere in the world.

The Cameo Cinema is the only single-screen Art House Cinema in the United States to boast a state-of-the-art Barco 6k Cinema Laser Projector and Dolby Atmos Surround Sound.

Operating an 
Art House Cinema 
in the 21st Century

The exhibition business in the United States is dominated by three major circuits — Regal, AMC and Cinemark — that collectively control 50% of the roughly 41,000 screens in the country. Independent theater owners worldwide are forced to come up with creative ways to stay solvent and have no choice but to out-hustle the ‘big three’ if they want to survive. Yes, there are challenges, but when you love what you do, nothing seems impossible.

Like other independent arts exhibitors, ticket sales are split with distributors. Sometimes they require as much as 63% of your ticket fee go back to the studio.  So you can see why a raise in ticket prices doesn’t really address the shortfall.

Movie theaters rely heavily on concession sales, but they are unpredictable and tied to attendance. The combined revenue from tickets and concessions covers only a small portion of the Theater’s overhead. Special events, film festivals and curated programs can increase our bottom line, but the margins are still razor thin. 

The Cameo Cinema's 
Partner - The CCF

We are committed to keeping the Cameo affordable for the entire community and like other Art House Cinemas nationwide, we rely on our non-profit  501(c)3 support group, the Cameo Cinema Foundation (CCF) to make the continued operation of the theater possible. 

This is why your donation is so crucial to the theater at this time. 

Explore the many programs your generous donations make possible each year.  EXPLORE >

Creative ways to support the Cameo Cinema

---Visit Cameo@Home and rent one of our curated, streaming movies each week.

---Enjoy the full ‘big screen’ experience by indulging yourself at the Concession Stand whenever you visit the theater.  
---Take advantage of our new ‘movie night’ rental program and enjoy a movie with your family and friends. 
---Donate $2500 or more for a beautiful, hand-engraved STAR on our Galaxy Wall at the theater. 
---Make a donation through our NEW Spare Change program - an awesome way to become a sustainable donor!

Addressing the challenges of COVID19

No one expected The Cameo Cinema having to close to the public for more than 6 months. But when the pandemic hit, The Cameo team did what they always do: they got creative!


Starting with offering films via streaming and online Q&A sessions with film makers, the Cameo Cinema has managed to continue its connection with the community.  You can enjoy a curated selection of the best Independent and Documentary films from the comfort of your couch! Fifty percent of each ticket supports the theater.

The Drive-In Move Theater, which was created in partnership with Joel Gott, the City of St. Helena, the  Chamber of Commerce, and the CCF has been the HIT OF THE SUMMER. Both of these programs have been successful, but again the margins are so thin profits barely cover the cost of creating and staffing them.

We constantly monitor best practices for making the space safer as we re-open the theater, and have adopted the National Association of Theater Owners’ (NATO), CinemaSafe protocol.

Your donation to the CCF matters more than ever! 

The Cameo team has been tireless in pursuing financial assistance through the Care Act, and other revenue streams, cutting expenses, and doing everything possible to maintain our financial health. 

The CCF Board and the Cameo staff have a plan to sustain the theater for however long this pandemic needs addressing in the course of doing business

But that plan depends on support from everyone who loves The Cameo. Please give what you can to preserve the Cameo Cinema, a true gem of the Napa Valley community


A short history of the Cameo Cinema

On May 15, 1913 an overflow crowd jammed the newly opened G&G Theater to watch the first silent movie ever shown in St. Helena,  Selig's " Kings of the Forest" (shot in Griffith Park!).  The G&G boasted "400 seats, 150 opera chairs, a modern stage and two standing sets." 

Our tiny theater quickly became the cultural center of this small agricultural community,  only the local churches hosted more events.  In 1915 it was renamed the Liberty Theatre .  It remained a center for silent films, community events and programs for decades, making the transition to "talkies" and Technicolor appear seamless.
The "Roxy"(Cameo Cinema)  on Main Street, St. Helena 

The Liberty changed hands several times after WWII, and its name changed with every sale.  In the 1970s the Money family took possession and began the long overdue renovations and upgrades.  They renamed it The Roxy and continuing their stewardship into the 1980s.  Like many small town movie houses in the age of television, the Liberty struggled to maintain a presence on Main Street.   In 1996 Charlotte Wagner assumed the lease and performed a serious upgrade to the facilities and equipment, renaming the theater, The Cameo Cinema. Cathy Buck assumed the lease in 2008 and a new era for the Cameo Cinema began.