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Local News

Rialto Square Theatre considers adding movies to theater offerings

The Rialto Square Theatre may make movies a monthly feature at the theater in 2018.
The Rialto Square Theatre may make movies a monthly feature at the theater in 2018.

JOLIET – The Rialto Square Theatre hopes to make movies a monthly event at some point in 2018.

The Rialto still is looking for a sponsor to offset costs, but is considering adding two different movie formats to the entertainment offerings at the theater, which has run old movies and classics during the winter holidays and on other occasions.

Executive Director Valerie Divine said movies could draw a new audience to the theater, which typically charges $5 admission when it shows films.

“Maybe we could bring people to the theater, and $5 is more in their price range,” Devine said. “Some people would like to see the classics on that large screen of ours.”

One idea is to do a classic movie format that would include lunch at the Rialto and a performance on the theater’s pipe organ.

Devine said the theater is talking with groups that organize activities and outings for seniors to see what kind of interest there is in classic movie events. Such a series likely would occur during warm weather months, she said.

Meanwhile, the theater also is looking at monthly movie nights that would be marketed to a general audience and likely be feature films with family appeal.

The Rialto primarily has been a live entertainment venue since the 1980s. But it may have been the most popular movie theater in Joliet in previous decades. The theater would count on big-screen movie fans wanting to watch films at the Rialto again.

“I think a lot of people have fond memories of the theater,” Devine said. “This would be a nice way for them to visit the theater.”

While the Rialto would show previously run movies as it has in the past, the format would be different in that it would be monthly so that people would know when to expect a movie at the theater, Devine said.

“We want to make it consistent,” she said.

Movies likely would be held on the same day each month.

Devine said the Rialto first needs to find a sponsor to offset the expense of buying rights to show the movies and to cover labor costs.

“It seems relatively easy and low-cost, but there are costs,” she said.

The theater now has a new movie projector thanks to the Rialto volunteers, Devine said. The old projector had worn down to the point that the quality of the picture on the theater screen was no longer very good. The new projector was used for showing of “The Santa Clause” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” this month.

The Rialto typically makes movies part of the series of events it holds in December for annual holiday fundraising. The theater periodically has shown movies at other times, including a showing of “Mary Poppins,” which drew a large crowd to a 90th anniversary celebration for the Rialto in May 2016.

The theater followed that with a “Movies to Remember” series of six movies in the second half of 2016.

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