Ever since South Pasadena's historic Rialto Theatre went up for sale this past summer, there's been excitement, as a new owner would likely mean that this beautiful old theater might finally get the restoration it so desperately needs. Unfortunately, director and film enthusiast Quentin Tarantino will not be the one to save the crumbling Rialto, says South Pasadena Now, but he came so close. Tarantino and the sellers had agreed on a contract, but Tarantino pulled out just before the deal closed. If the deal had gone through, the historic Rialto would have been completely restored and would have screened classic films on 35mm reels, sort of like what's happening at the Tarantino-owned New Beverly Cinema. A rep for Tarantino reportedly told a South Pas city official that Tarantino got involved in a large-scale overseas movie production just after submitting his bid, and decided that he couldn't fully commit the money and time to the purchasing process. Bummer. So now that Tarantino's out of the picture, who's left? One possibility might be the owner of the Vista Theatre in Los Feliz, who told the LA Times back in July that he'd been interested in buying the Rialto even before it was on the market. He'd be a fitting steward for the old theater. His company, Vintage Cinemas, has renovated three old movie houses including the Vista and turned them all into first-run theaters.
The Rialto went on the market this summer for the first time since the 1930s. It's been owned by the same family (and later, the family trust) since then, but was leased by Landmark Theaters in 1976. Landmark's lease goes until 2024, but they haven't shown movies in the theater regularly since 2009, with the exception of the odd revival showing here and there. In 2010, the fire department shut the venue down after a hunk of the building's exterior fell of the building and onto the sidewalk. Landmark and the Jebbia family never really seemed into doing the upkeep necessary to maintain the building, thus its current, shabby condition and its need for an owner who really loves the place enough to sink a bunch of money and time into the restoration process.
· Tarantino Backs Out of Purchasing Rialto [SPN]
· South Pasadena's Crumbling Rialto Theatre For Sale For the First Time Since the 1930s [Curbed LA]