Rialto Theatre

1023 Fair Oaks Avenue,
South Pasadena, CA 91030

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Showing 1 - 25 of 247 comments

br91975 on August 26, 2023 at 5:56 pm

“ To my knowledge they have only allowed one movie to be screened since the remodel, and have not allowed any outside organizations to do any events, both things they said publicly they would do.”

Thus far, until or unless proven otherwise, Mosaic Church lied.

Isn’t there a Commandment against that?

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 26, 2023 at 10:45 am

Hi, Escott Norton here, founder of Friends of the Rialto. I respectfully suggest that the main description be changed in the last paragraph. The Mosaic Church, the current tenant, did not do any sort of “restoration” on the interior. The nicest thing I could say is they “cleaned it up”, but in the process they smashed all of the audience seating and removed it, leveled the floor, covered up many of the iconic plaster sculptures, and painted everything a non-original pallet me of off whites. To my knowledge they have only allowed one movie to be screened since the remodel, and have not allowed any outside organizations to do any events, both things they said publicly they would do. While the theatre is still there, is is not “restored” at all, “renovated” would be more accurate. While someday it could be restored, it looks nothing like it did in 1925. Here is a link to my update with current photos. https://friendsoftherialto.org/news.html

DavidZornig on October 19, 2021 at 6:45 am

Additional history credit Joe Sonderman.

October 17, 1925 - The Rialto Theater in South Pasadena opened. The Rialto Orchestra under the leadership of Rhuel Eno Moulton provided musical accompaniment for the “five snappy acts” of vaudeville Director William A. Seiter and Star Reginald Denny were in attendance. The theater closed in 2007. Featured in the film “La La Land,” it is now used by a church group.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on March 3, 2021 at 12:30 pm

On March 10, 2021 at 7pm I will be doing a free online presentation on the history of the Rialto, leading right up to the recent exterior restoration that the owners did over the last year. I consulted with them to make sure authentic colors and materials were utilized. The presentation will include exclusive behind the scenes photos of the process as well as historic interior photos of non-public areas. You can register here: www.crowdcast.io/e/rialto

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on November 21, 2019 at 6:30 pm

Thanks Jorge! Yes, I was there for the 3 day shoot, they did exteriors and interiors. They even shot in the projection room which is a first for the Rialto! Mick Garris, the writer/director, was really great, he actually visited the Rialto a lot when he was younger and wrote the script with it in mind, having no idea that he would be able to shoot there! For those interested, here is a link to some behind the scenes photos I shot during filming of Nightmare Cinema: https://www.facebook.com/pg/FriendsoftheRialto/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2558787384140105

Jorge on November 20, 2019 at 6:16 pm

Watching a horror movie called “Nightmare Cinema” on Shudder & the Rialto is featured prominently (at least the exterior). Looks beautiful & haunting at the same time.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on May 8, 2017 at 10:07 pm

The latest news on the Rialto Theatre is that the owners signed a lease with Mosaic Church. They have exclusive rights to use the entire building, My group, Friends of the Rialto, has been holding special events in the Rialto for the last 2 years with the owner’s support. We have presented a proposal to the church leaders to manage and program the Theatre whenever the church is not using it. We believe this is the best use of the theatre and will help bring the community together. For the latest, sign up on our mailing list at www.FriendsoftheRialto.org.

Trolleyguy on May 1, 2017 at 3:28 pm

The marquee and exterior of this theatre show up in the Oscar-winning film “La La Land”

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on September 12, 2016 at 12:32 am

With the support of the Rialto’s new owners, Friends of the Rialto has now produced 2 fundraising shows and are in rehearsals for a fully staged production of Funny Girl with full orchestra. We also have an online fundraising campaign with the goal of bringing in enough in cash and pledges to take on the lease and restore and reopen the Rialto. Please visit my website for information on upcoming events, and a link to the fundraiser. We have lots of fun “perks” too!

We also did a community work day, getting rid of a lot of junk (don’t worry, nothing cool or vintage!). The goal was to open up space on stage to make it easier to produce our shows! Another work day will be scheduled soon, you can get on my mailing lists on the website too!


DonSolosan on December 6, 2015 at 11:34 pm

A Los Angeles Historic Theatre Foundation Insider’s Peek.


Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on June 9, 2015 at 10:21 pm

Actually, that was LA Magazine’s “spin” on it! I posted the pictures on my Facebook site and Chris Nichols asked to use them in exchange for giving Friends of the Rialto credit. He made most of the details up. There was no “panic” or “racing to the scene”, I was the one who was originally contacted by Modern Family and I put them in touch with the owners! The TV crew was very friendly and loved the Rialto, and I think the show was sweet. Here is a link to watch the epson online: http://abc.go.com/shows/modern-family/episode-guide/season-06/623-crying-out-loud

surf_digby on June 9, 2015 at 5:24 pm


Looks like the filming of Modern Family caught the locals by surprise.

Keith on May 17, 2015 at 7:27 pm

Featured in a episode of Modern Family.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on March 2, 2015 at 9:11 pm

Hockey Dude, please contact me at if you would be interested in using the theatre or other spaces within the building. Thanks!

Hockey Dude
Hockey Dude on March 2, 2015 at 8:38 pm

I wouldnt mind renting out some of the upper office space for an animation studio. South Pasadena is home to many significant and talented artists, filmmakers and animators.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on March 2, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Landmark Theatres singed over the remainder of the lease. I am not sure what the terms were, but they had made it clear to me that they would be happy to let go of it. They were not interested in continuing operations at the Rialto.

silver on March 2, 2015 at 1:30 pm

Is Landmark Theatres still involved at this theater anymore?
A comment above said that Landmark’s long term lease runs to 2024. Did the new owner let them out of it, or are they still on the hook?

Hockey Dude
Hockey Dude on March 1, 2015 at 9:13 pm

The last first-run, original full length movie to be shown at the Rialto was “The Subhuman”, on May 8th,2009.
It was an indy film by R.Hall. I cant wait to see its renovation.

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on March 1, 2015 at 11:49 am

I have now met with the Owners of the Rialto a few times. They plan to start restoring the exterior and the storefronts as soon as possible, and will wait on restoring the theatre itself until a suitable tenant is found. Friends of the Rialto is working to bring in a quality theatre operator or a coalition of theater users. If anyone would like to be a potential user of the theatre, please contact me at .

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on January 10, 2015 at 8:28 am

I am working to set up a meeting with Mr. Shomof to discuss his plans, and push for a proper and careful restoration and reactivation. Check in with my Facebook page: www.facebook.oom/FriendfsoftheRialto or sign up on my website: www.FriendsoftheRialto.org for updates.

JimMitchell on January 10, 2015 at 7:24 am

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Rialto has been purchased by well-known L.A.-area developer Izek Shomof. The Times quotes him as saying he hopes to reopen the Rialto as an entertainment venue, perhaps including a bar and screenings of old films.


Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on August 5, 2014 at 11:29 am

Very exciting news for the Rialto, in June the owners decided to put the Rialto up for sale! After working for 27 years on getting the Rialto restored, there is FINALLY some movement! The owner’s representative announced that they were accepting bid proposals, deadline was July 16th. As an advocate for the Rialto I consulted with many potential buyers, and heard some very intriguing proposals.
The owners have been deliberating for a few weeks now, I have been told that the majority of offers were proposing to restore the theatre as a THEATRE, but until the owners go public with their choice, we do not know for sure who will be the new owner and what they are planning to do with this beautiful theatre.
I have been reporting what I can on the process at my Facebook page, and have some beautiful new photos there by my friend Hunter Kerhart. Please check there for the latest info and discussions: www.facebook.oom/FriendfsoftheRialto

HowardBHaas on August 21, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Article http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/government-and-politics/20130820/south-pasadena-weighs-plans-for-decaying-rialto-theatre

Escott O. Norton
Escott O. Norton on July 14, 2013 at 7:19 pm

Thanks ejones! If you win that lottery, give us a call! If and when we are able to restore and reopen the Rialto Theatre I also want to see silents and classics as a part of the programming!

Since you mentioned seeing the filming, you might be interested in the stills I’ve posted on our Facebook page from The Player as well as some other films that have been shot at the Rialto. Go to our Facebook page, click on Photos, then look for an album titled: “The Rialto Theatre in the Movies”


ejones880 on July 14, 2013 at 6:58 pm

I lived in South Pasadena\Alhambra in 1992. I remember I was driving around the area when the “The Player” was being filmed and the actors in my way in the street on Mission. I saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Much Ado About Nothing and Life is Beautiful here. Sad that’s its closed now, If I won the lottery I would open it and show silent and classic films.