Art Cinema

255 Franklin Avenue,
Hartford, CT 06114

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Art Cinema

The Rialto Theatre was built in 1919 and is Hartford’s last operating classic movie house. By 1933 the Rialto Theatre was operated by Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp. It was also part of a chain that included the Colonial Theatre, Lenox Theatre and Lyric Theatre in Hartford, and the Central Theatre in West Hartford. When business waned, it started showing art films from December 28, 1951 and was renamed Art Theatre.

Nowadays, however, it is the last remaining adult cinema in town and has been showing X-Rated features for decades. The theatre seats 601 (350 on the main level, 251 on the balcony) and still has a 35mm projector, but it is not used at all because the adult films are on video.

The Art Cinema is now run by Ernest Grecula Jr., having previously been run by his father, and has been in the family for 40 years. It was closed in January 2019 “for upgrades to be done” and has a fundraising to complete the upgrade. It remains closed in September 2019.

Contributed by Roger Katz

Recent comments (view all 23 comments)

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on March 7, 2014 at 3:31 am

How could she possibly unaware that this was an XXX theatre? The movie listings are in the daily newspaper, there are posters all over the lobby showing what is playing, signs about no minors allowed, and it has been showing adult movies for roughly fifty years. There is practically no way NOT to know what this theatre is.

NoW on March 8, 2014 at 11:14 pm

Why or how my friend did not know about the type of films shown here is not the point. My question is about security measures taken. There are sexual predators who go to this theater and people who plan to go there should be aware of that. So I will ask again: isn’t there security here??

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on March 8, 2014 at 11:18 pm

No, there isn’t security. It is a small theatre run only by the owner. People go to this type of business precisely to have encounters with strangers.

kylerodgers on October 9, 2014 at 2:42 am I made a short documentary on the theater. shows the inside and the history of the theater.

Dr Emilio Lizardo
Dr Emilio Lizardo on January 6, 2015 at 11:03 pm

The new website for The Art Cinema is now online at . Complete with new photos of The Art, plus upcoming events at the theater.

pathsofglory on March 23, 2015 at 8:50 pm

Ah, the good old Art Cinema – shades of my misspent youth. In the early sixties a group of us Trinity students would go there, drunk as lords (well, dissolute preppies, anyway) to savor the, uhh…art. In those days skin flick owners (sorry: Art Purveyors) had to dissemble what the Supreme Court called redeeming social value. Couldn’t just run “Sex Kitten in Lust”; had to be something Aristotle would have condoned. Consequently, there was usually a double feature: 1. the one we came to see, and 2. some murky Bergman or Fellini flick we’d have to snore through until it came on. Actually, it wasn' t so bad. I was introduced to some quite good British cinema, and I recall seeing Elvira Madigan there; humming Mozart for days, I was.

Sometimes they’d try to avoid the obligatory “socially uplifting” picture by inserting the RSV in the porn. I recall one of the titles, “A Thousand Ways to Love,” throughout which the only dialogue was Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “How do I love thee?; let me count the ways.” A sheer ripoff. I could count only seventeen.

rivest266 on February 21, 2017 at 11:47 pm

This opened on December 28th, 1951 as Art. Grand opening ad in the photo section.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on September 17, 2019 at 1:09 pm

The Art Cinema closed this past January for “upgrades” and has not reopened yet, nor is reopening imminent. There is currently a GoFundMe campaign attempting to raise over $1,000,000 to cover the renovations.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 18, 2019 at 1:49 am

I wonder what the odds are that someone could raise a million bucks on GoFundMe? I can’t imagine they’d be very good.

Roger Katz
Roger Katz on September 18, 2019 at 1:52 am

Actually, I stand corrected as their immediate goal on there is $35,000. But the renovations will cost over $1 million total.

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