End credits rolling for Pasadena's Rialto

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Another one bites the dust. The Rialto Theatre, one of the last remaining single-screen movie palaces in the Los Angeles area, will turn off its lights Sunday, another victim of the multiplex and neglect.

"Making a single-screen theater profitable is tough to begin with, but when you have competition (from multiscreen complexes) and when you have an aging facility, which is what we have, it makes it very difficult to make it work," Landmark Theatres CEO Bill Banowsky said. "It was getting to a point that people would choose not to go there, as much as they love the fact that the Rialto was in their community and remained open. They would drive by it and go down to the other theaters in Pasadena. We were losing money."

The theater, designed by L.A. Smith in the Spanish Baroque style with Egyptian flourishes, was prominently used in films and commercials, most notably in Robert Altman's "The Player" (where Tim Robbins commits his murder) and in the opening sequence of "Scream 2."

Timothy Hillman, who worked as the location manager for "Scream 2" and is a Pasadena resident, recalled needing to fix up the theater during the 1998 production.

"The vertical sign needed work, and we redid one side of it; we had to fix it up to make it work," Hillman said. "It's a tired, beautiful theater that needs a David Geffen to come in and say, 'We want to save this place.' "

Landmark, acknowledging that the building needs a seven-figure face-lift, said that it would like to see the Rialto remain a movie theater in some form. If that's not possible, then the retail or restaurant world beckons.

"We are going to continue talking with developers who are interested in redeveloping that downtown South Pasadena area where the Rialto may or may not be a key part of the redevelopment plan," Banowsky said.
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