255 Franklin Avenue,
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Art Cinema (Official)
Previously operated by: Warner Bros. Circuit Management Corp.
Architects: Edward T. Wiley
Functions: Movies (Adult)
Previous Names: Rialto Theatre, Art Theatre
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 was fully refurbished and reopened on December 19, 2020.
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