A few days ago I showed a little section of the wonderful Rialto Theater. It’s one of greater Los Angeles’ last remaining historic movie palaces, and it closed its doors last year. You can still rent it out for parties and fundraisers but its future as a real cinema is very much undecided.
The South Pasadena Downtown Revitalization Project includes the Rialto in the proposed redevelopment zone, though it doesn't specifically address revamping the theater. The project itself has recently met with opposition and the voters will decide in November whether the city has the right to move forward. (I’ll post more about this controversy soon.)
I can't bear to think of another architectural treasure ending up a crumbling relic. The Los Angeles area has lost far too many historic buildings through a combination of carelessness, economic strain and pure ennui. In this age of multiplexes and IMAX stadium cinemas, I’m not sure what it would take to bring The Rialto back to its former glory. Even though I’ve lived in LA for two decades, I never managed to see a film at The Rialto—but I know a number of people who would drive from the Valley or the west side just for the experience of seeing a film here. And then there were the regular midnight Rocky Horror screenings. I’m sorry I missed those.
For now -- with the exception of special events -- the Rialto is dark. Let’s hope there is a way to light its silver screen again. After all, Hollywood loves a good comeback.