After a decade of screening some 1,400 films to some 2.5 million viewers, the Rialto Cinemas Lakeside goes dark to ordinary programming on Aug. 22 as Dan Tocchini's Santa Rosa Entertainment Group takes over the property's lease. Mark Aug. 23 down, however, as Rialto proprietor Ky Boyd throws a special community party replete with "big" announcements, food and wine, and the concurrent showing of five of his favorite films from the Rialto's run in each screening room of the art house multiplex.
Cinema lovers were stunned when it was announced this spring that Boyd had lost his lease on the business he has built over the last decade. Boyd estimates that it will be a year before his new cinema is ready for the public. He can't yet give details on where it will be. In the interim, Boyd will continue to screen live feeds of Metropolitan Opera performances and broadcasts of the National Theatre of London at the Sixth Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa's Railroad Square.
While Boyd is not yet willing to discuss future plans, all hints are that he is building a theater from the ground up, saying that eight screens is what he's looking to in the future rather than the five the Rialto currently has. "It's fun to create from a blank slate," he says. "We have a wish list of things we want: more screens, more seats, bigger bathrooms, more parking. I'd love an office with a window."
Not everyone yet knows that the Rialto is poised to close, and Boyd says he is stopped daily by fans distraught over the news. "They say, 'You can't leave here, this is the perfect location!'" Boyd chuckles grimly. "Well, news flash, it's not our choice. If you think back 10 years ago to what the Lakeside Center was when we arrived, it wasn't a great location. It became a great location because we built a business. It was never my goal to create a cultural institution, but that's what I ended up doing. I came from the not-for-profit arts and used those skills to really embrace the idea of creating community.
"It's succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. In this whole drama," Boyd says, "I feel like I'm being punished for my success."
Help celebrate his success at Last Night at the Rialto on Monday, Aug. 23, from 6pm. $20. 551 Summerfield Road, Santa Rosa. 707.525.4840.