Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fading Beauty

The Rialto may be dark but her romantic soul shines through even late at night, all but abandoned, with leaflets littered on the sidewalk. I hold out hope that savvy investors will see the potential of this beloved movie queen and rescue her from inevitable ruin. (Everyone loves a great comeback story.)

14 comments:

Judy Williams said...

I really like this image. The turquoise lights, the diagonal tree shadow, and the muted sad tones of the theater itself. I just can't imagine that someone with some savvy and vision couldn't bring her back to life!!

Sharon said...

For some reason, "Back to the Future" popped inot my head when I saw this photo.

Mister Earl said...

Very cool photo. Love the dark mood with the green lights.

Save this photo, it may come in handy as a campaign ad. "Do you want a city that looks this this? Then elect .... for city council."

altadenahiker said...

Really like this "Last Picture Show" feeling.

Dixie Jane said...

Right on, Mister Earl! I can't believe that someone hasn't snatched up this baby before now. Let us all hope.

Yakpate said...

I love the way the reflecting teal lights have an "infinite mirror" quality, like when one mirror faces another and reflects itself ad infinitum.

I also love it that, even on this darkened street, a tree is casting its lacy shadow against the theater.

Another beauty!

Bellis said...

So sad that it's been declared a safety hazard and they can't use it at all now.

Petrea said...

Wonderful photo of an icon. I fantasize that in a different economy investors would be competing for this space, to perhaps repurpose it for modern uses while rehabilitating it to let its beauty shine through.

dbdubya said...

There are a number of problems with developing the Rialto. It's owned by a family trust with a large number of people in the trust. They have a long lease with Landmark Theaters, the company owned by Mark Cuban. Landmark doesn't want to terminate the lease. The trustees don't want to cancel it. And neither the trustees nor Landmark want to invest in the building. So, the theater sits there and continues to deteriorate before our eyes.

While refurbished old movie houses like the Rialto are great community assets, they are financial drains. A single screen theater like this, or one that's been turned into a performing arts theater like the Alex in Glendale, don't balance the books. The Alex, which has been beautifully restored and is a better facility than the Rialto, still requires a City subsidy in the area of $200,000 per year.

The only models that make economic sense are the ones where the facade is maintained and the inside is changed to either a multi-screen theater, retail, residential, or a mixture.

Unfortunately, until the owners or lesee decide to do something, the theater just sits and rots.

Laurie said...

I believe a multiuse theater could be financially viable -- like the Paramount in Austin. It has to be supported by a celebrity face -- with BIG names in plays and well known musicians coming there in between the revival/indie film runs. Possibly with film festivals there as well. I'd be interested in knowing how the Wiltern's books look -- and they only book musical acts. ALso the Palace in Hollywood. And they only host musical acts.

I believe in the Rialto. I really think more people in the biz need to know about it -- and its potential.

Laurie said...

The Egyptian in Hollywood is another one I'd like to know more about. It's a full-on movie palace. Granted, it's in Hollywood, but it tells me that these things can be refurbished and work.

dbdubya said...

I believe the Chamber has done some research on refurbished theaters and learned that there are none in the U.S. that are operating as a performing arts theater without some form of subsidy, either from a non-profit or government agency. Perhaps someone from the Chamber can provide more information.

Laurie said...

Maybe Oprah Winfrey really wants her own theater? Or Warren Buffett? Or perhaps the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation really wants a performing arts space? I'm actually half serious when I pose these questions...

I know the Paramount in Austin operates as a non-profit, but I don't know about The Egyptian here. I think it's owned by a film company and the theater itself is on the US Historic register. The Wiltern has something to do with Clear Channel if I'm not mistaken. Obviously big bucks or loopholes have to come in with these things but if other theaters can be saved, I'm convinced there is hope for The Rialto. Frankly, I don't think most of the rest of Los Angeles even knows about The Rialto. They know El Capitan (how does it operate, I wonder?) and Graumen's Chinese and the decaying theaters in downtown LA but not enough know about our little diamond in the rough. Since South Pas is such a movie set already, I can't help but think a refurbished Rialto would be a great boon for filming. I believe that's what happened to the historic Park View Plaza hotel downtown -- I think it's mainly used for films and events, now, and isn't even a hotel anymore. But I'm not sure.

Thanks, everyone! Until tomorrow...

Petrea said...

I think Disney owns El Capitan, if I'm not mistaken. That explains that.

But these theaters do thrive. The Egyptian in DeKalb, Illinois (not exactly an entertainment capital) thrives as a non profit. It can be done. It might take a leader, or a committee (Save the Rialto dot com).