South Pasadena’s historic Rialto Theatre to close just heard from FilmRadar’s Karie Bible that Landmark Theatres has decided to close the Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena.

Designed by L.A. Smith, who did the same for the Vista Theatre in Hollywood, the Rialto opened in 1925 boasting “no less than 10 dressing rooms, a scenic loft, a green room, an orchestra pit and a deep stage,” making it suitable for a wide variety of events including the movies it showed for 30 cents admission. Now screening “The Simpsons Movie”, the theatre has alternated over the years from being a revival house theatre to showing first run films (they continue to run The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a weekend midnight staple). Recognizable in countless films, the Rialto is probably best remembered from appearing in The Player and in Scream 2 (where the theatre was screening “Stab”, a Tori Spelling movie-within-a-movie based on the events from the first Scream).

While Karie was able to confirm that the theatre will be closed, she didn’t know when, or what the future plans for the Rialto would be.

The Rialto was was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 after residents rallied to save the theatre from “revelopment”. According to a February 2004 report posted on Cinema Treasures, the City of South Pasadena discussed cutting up the Rialto into a multi-screen, converting the building into a “a public facility, incorporating the theater and using it as community space,” or keeping it as is, but with a major renovation.

If anyone has any additional news about the Rialto’s fate, please let us know in the comments or via “suggest a story”.

…mini history from South Pasadena Online… photo by Matt Logelin who captured a number of shots detailing the Rialto’s decay, (cc) some rights reserved

17 thoughts on “South Pasadena’s historic Rialto Theatre to close”

  1. I’ll be damned. I don’t know why, but I always thought the theater from Scream 2 was the Vista. Anyway, I’m sure Wil will be heartbroken. :(

  2. Damn. I guess I’m partially to blame. I live in South Pas and never ever go to that theater. I went once and the sound was so bad – echoy – though I love the idea of the Rialto. If they went the way of the New Beverly – I’d hit it all the time.

  3. Wow, I am devastated. I’ve lived in the area since 1979 and have seen just tons of movies there. The place is outdated and flawed, but equally magical.

  4. I live about a 1/2 mile away from the Rialto and took my daughters to see the Simpsons there opening weekend.

    The fat lady ain’t singing yet and South Pas is notorious for resisting change. Don’t be surprised if the Rialto is saved once again.

  5. I live only a few blocks away and I must admit that as much as I love the Rialto, I almost never go there anymore. I still occasionally hit the Saturday night midnight revival, but for first run flicks, I choose the ArcLight or another theater with good seats, good sound, good picture, etc. I would love it if the Rialto were to show limited release art house and foreign films again. With any luck the people of South Pas will rally to keep the doors open.

  6. My film going buddies and I were real regulars at the Rialto until Landmark bought them a few years ago. They instantly raised the price to something that was not acceptable for a place that was not improved in the slightest (and is freezing cold in the winter). It sucks when you see a company come and make a good thing stop working.

  7. I cover South Pas for the Star-News. If anyone has memories of the Rialto they’d like to share with us for Friday’s paper, please drop me a line at [email protected] and we can talk over the phone.

  8. I saw Triplets of Belleville at the Rialto. I hope it stays open long enough for me to catch one last show during my spin through LA (Sep 4-6).

  9. I am just sick over this news. I dreaded this. I love the Rialto’s so called “flaws”. If I had the funds I would completely re-vamp it without changing the structure of the building. I sincerely hope that someone comes in and saves it. I love seeing movies there, because it feels like home. It’s not sterile and uniform like all the other movie theaters. We just need someone with the funds and a group of supporters to rally around it! Let’s form a group!

  10. There’s something really fishy about this whole thing. Apparently, some major developer is planning on making central South Pas more “pedestrian friendly,” which is a ridiculous concept, because no town could already be more so.

    The Rialto is smack dab in the middle of this planned project. It’s also owned by a longtime family trust with designs on the area– you know, one of those families where the grandkids get real estate licenses and then live off the proceeds, all the while calling themselves “developers.”

    Don’t count on a revived Rialto– this is all pretext for development. Looks like they’re going to make this a bargaining chip in order to gain the project’s approval– it’s a setup, in other words.

    South Pas, where are you? Obviously asleep at the wheel…

  11. In the 1970’s I was one of several local SoPas residents who worked together to stop the local Community Redevelopment Agency from promoting the demolition of the RIALTO. The battle cry was RESCUE THE RIALTO. The movement quickly gained the support of some members of the city council, principally Alva Lee Arnold. Our efforts, from the beginning, had the endorsement of the Cultural Heritage Commission, as well as the South Pasadena Preservation group. A very talented local photographer, Lyn Cariffe, photographed the interior for us. Ray Girvigian, AIA and John Kariotis, renowned SoCal structural engineer helped us write the application for National Heritage Landmark status, which turned out to be successful in attaining this recognition. Throughout all of this fracas we never received more than a cool and limp handshake from Landmark Theatres.
    Perhaps they have their reasons, but, as far as I can tell, they never developed an effective business plan for the maintenance and restoration of the lovely old RIALTO. Many fine people contributed their time and ideas to the original “RESCUE” effort.
    It is tragic that their committment hasn’t produced anything beyond the two decade reprieve from the wrecker’s ball.

  12. I am sad to say that the The Rialto is closing down this Sunday, without resistance. I believe it is a reflection of our society when an historic and remarkably built (interior is like no other) is going to be overshadow by oversized ,unoriginal, multiplexes. But then again people only care to see movies that lack substance and only offer momentary thrills. I digress. There is news that the place may open again, but I am under the impression that it will not be for playing movies. The saddest thing about the situation is that as Landmark never gave a hint that the theatre was finacially in the state it was. Which makes me ask the question: How come there were never plans to change the format and theme of the place. The NEW BEVERLY has existed since the 70’s playing double features of classic and obscure movies. Maybe a suggestion like this would have changes the finacial state. Just an idea. But there was never a chance because money is to be made and developers are probably foaming at the mouth to build a new starbucks. Two words: THIS SUCKS!

  13. I was at the NEW Beverly a couple of months ago for the grindhouse B-rated movies. I loved it. The Rialto just needed to try other methods of advertising to make it appealing. I only went to the NEW BEVERLY because i heard it on KROQ . I saw the Simpsons on opening day at the Rialto and it was great. I thought the theater would be there for more movies to come but i guess i was wrong. I’m going to go watch the SImpsons again this week so that i can sit in there one last time. I just wish someOne can save it.

  14. Damn! I first saw a movie here nearly twenty years ago while in high school. My wife and I have been looking at homes in the area. I was looking forward to being able to walk to this place (instead of making the 20+ mile drive we currently make).

    BTW… all you locals… you wanna sell your home… for cheap??!! $outh Pa$ !

  15. I’m not surprised, L.A. has no care in the world for keeping its historical places safe. Every single one of Chaplins amazing estates or studios are now just apartments.

    The ugliest city in the country just got uglier.

    Also the silent movie theater is going to close and hastings ranch with that huge screen. This city of all places should keep these great theaters.

    Also, anyone who really knows the Rialto knows that it is haunted. I know several people over the years who worked there who never knew each other report about the same ghost. It’s an amazing place with a lot of history, this is really sad.

    It’s just too bad the Rialto wasn’t on the East coast where it would have been safe among a city that has, lets just say, different ideals than L.A.

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