Rialto theater in South Pasadena threatened?

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Rialto theater in South Pasadena threatened?

Postby nichols » Mon Aug 06, 2007 7:52 pm

(Via Curbed LA)

ImageSOUTH PASADENA - LA Magazine just named the Rialto Theater the Best Midnight Show in LA a few weeks ago. Better hurry if you want to catch it. There's a rumor afoot the theater is closing in two weeks. The theater has been operated by Landmark since 1976 but it seems the Landmark doesn't own it. According to the rumor mill, aka a reader with a possible scoop, "the owners need to do a lot of work to it and can't afford it so i think they are selling it. [Name redacted] thinks it'll be renovated into a live venue like the Alex in Glendale." The theater has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978 but that offers scant protection. And by scant, we mean none. [CurbedWire Inbox]

http://la.curbed.com/

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Postby Vavala » Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:19 pm

In addition to being listed in the National Register, the Rialto Theater is also a designated South Pasadena landmark.

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Postby Vavala » Fri Aug 10, 2007 9:09 am

Historic Rialto to go dark Aug. 20
Single-screen theater not financially viable

By Cortney Fielding
Staff Reporter

Pasadena Star-News
August 9, 2007

SOUTH PASADENA - After more than 80 years of screening movies, The Rialto Theatre, one of the San Gabriel Valley's last-remaining "movie palaces" from the early 20th century, is slated to go dark forever.

Parent company Landmark Theatres, which operates classic movie houses across the country, announced its plans to close the iconic theater for good on Aug. 20.

Famous for its cavernous auditorium and gargoyle statues - but also widely known for its chipping paint and springy seats - The Railto's aging baroque-style building needs more than $1 million in renovations, said Bill Banowsky, CEO of Landmark Theatres.

Even with major work, however, the single-screen movie house likely could not sustain itself financially showing just one film at a time, he said.

"Like many aging single-screen theaters, The Rialto has become uneconomical to operate as a movie theater," Banowsky said Thursday. "If we can develop an economically viable plan to restore the theater, that is our preference.

"If we are unable to do so, we will make the space available for other uses that are compatible with the neighborhood," he added.

The theater had been expected to become the focal point of a pending revitalization of South Pasadena's downtown area. DECOMA, the developer selected for the project, had even set aside about $200,000 to give The Rialto's facade a face-lift.

But while The Rialto's future as a movie house is uncertain, the structure itself will not disappear from South Pasadena's landscape, vowed Glen Duncan, president of the Pasadena Preservation Society and a member of the South Pasadena Cultural Heritage Commission.

The Rialto achieved historic-landmark status in 1978, after preservationists defeated a developer's plans to pave it over for a parking lot. Residents and movie buffs railed and in the end the City Council, faced with extreme political pressure, rejected the parking lot project.

Residents are prepared to wage a similar battle, Duncan said, if necessary.

"The community would never approve a demolition or a major alteration if it was going to greatly diminish its heritage quality," he said. "But it badly needs to be restored."

The Rialto was the creation of noted theater designer L.A. Smith, who died in 1925, a year after the theater opened.

Famous in its heyday for its stenciling, plaster ornaments, harpies, gargoyles, fancy fixtures and its organ screen, reporters of the 1920s dubbed The Rialto's decor "Moorish," according to a Pasadena Star-News article from the 1980s that reviewed the theater's history.

Originally showcasing a mix of films and live performances, the theater was outfitted with 10 dressing rooms, a scenery loft, a green room, a deep stage and an orchestra pit. Admission was 30 cents.

On its opening night, The Rialto Orchestra accompanied the world premiere of "What Happened to Jones?" Five vaudeville acts from the Fanchon and Marco circuit performed, including trapeze artists and a dance carnival number.

The decline of The Rialto coincided with the downfall of single-screen theaters nationwide.

In Los Angeles, however, movie buffs and preservationists were able to keep many of the old movie palaces alive and operating while others were being torn down in other parts of the country, said Ross Melnick, co-founder of classic-theater Web site, cinematreasures.com.

"Unfortunately, it's all too common," Melnick lamented. "In the last 10 to 15 years we have seen a rapid decline."

Some of the single-screen movie theaters survived by transforming themselves into multi-use facilities, turning into art galleries and rented venues for special events. Some even morphed into churches, said Melnick.

But Melnick said he did not blame Landmark Theatres for its decision to close The Rialto. He credited the company, in fact, for restoring many single-screen theaters around the country, turning them into venues for independent films that otherwise would not have a home.

"We are big fans of Landmark. They are a champion of classic theaters," said Melnick.

But he believes South Pasadena will lose a major treasure when The Rialto closes.

"It's such a vessel for memories," said Melnick. "Closing it would be wiping away one of the most central reminders of the past."

cortney.fielding@sgvn.com

(626) 578-6300 Ext. 4494

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Postby ChrisLAXEncounter » Sun Aug 12, 2007 9:37 pm

I want to see a movie before it goes away, but I am not sure I can handle sitting through the Simpsons movie currently screening there.

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Postby Futura Girl » Sun Aug 12, 2007 9:55 pm

we're not over-the-top simpson's fans, but we really really enjoyed the film.
any chance is a good chance to hang out in a historic theater.

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memories

Postby Kim » Thu Aug 16, 2007 3:15 pm

And it has a grisly true crime association, as the Fox Edward Hickman took kidnapped Marion Parker there to see a show before he killed her. They saw "Figures Don't Lie" with Esther Ralston and some vaudeville acts. I don't know if "The Simpsons' Movie" can compare.

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Postby Lynxwiler » Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:10 am

Today is its last day of operation.

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Postby nichols » Tue Aug 21, 2007 4:22 pm


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Postby So_Cal_Native_in_Texas » Sun Aug 26, 2007 8:52 am

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Postby I_LUV_POWER!!!! » Sun Sep 02, 2007 11:33 pm


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Postby TwinJim » Wed Sep 05, 2007 5:05 pm

Yes, the silent version of, Phantom of the Opera at the Rialto sticks in the memory. I couldn't recall the anniversary though. The 60th, Thanks! Quite a night. Didn't an organist play for the ocassion? We took the opportunity to finally sit up in the mysteriously closed balcony which added to the film's haunted theme. I believe the employees were allowed to use the balcony prior to that night.

Saw Altman's "Nashville" there when the theatre reopened as a revival house. Free popcorn and sodas....

The Academy Theatre in Pasadena is a worst case scenario for a classic film house in my opinion. It went from a classic palace to a mutilated multi-plex back in the mid-1980's. At least I had a chance to see the place inside before the lobotomy took place. Some remnants remain in the lobby but that's it, and there are no good seats unless you are there to down short -dog. Every movie there should be billed as "Sideways" since that's how you'll be watching the film.

I'd rather see the Rialto become a church than another, Academy of Horrors. Perhaps the old theatre will revive itself back to a stage performance/classic film hall. The best hope would be that it transforms into the successful Alex Theatre in Glendale.

Now I'm wondering what the old Raymond Theatre in Pasadena will look like after the bandages come off.

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Postby I_LUV_POWER!!!! » Fri Sep 07, 2007 8:38 pm

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Postby I_LUV_POWER!!!! » Fri Sep 07, 2007 8:50 pm



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