Rio Theater

140 Parker Avenue,
Rodeo, CA 94572

Unfavorite 2 people favorited this theater

Showing 18 comments

robertcampbell on July 15, 2018 at 5:56 pm

What traces were left of the Rio as a movie theater, are completely gone. The exterior of the building, as well as the building next door, have been completely remodeled. The church was having services, and I walked in to check it out. The interior was also completely remodeled, the auditorium has a much lower ceiling, and the rear seating area is gone. You couldn’t tell that it was once a movie theater.

zenitb on October 17, 2016 at 11:06 pm

I was involved in the reopening of the Rio in around 1974. It was somewhat vandalized but all the equipment was intact; it even had the gear to run 3-D movies. I helped the guys get going but it wasn’t viable as a movie house so they started using it as a music venue.

rodeogirl on November 19, 2013 at 5:02 pm

The photo shown on the first page is not the Rio. I uploaded one taken in the late 70’s when it was a rock club. I grew up in Rodeo and went to movies as a kid. I saw Bambi there, and Jungle Book. It was a beautiful piece of Art Deco architecture, and I’m sad it’s gone.

slip on June 19, 2012 at 2:32 am

celaniasdawn, Would like to discuss the Rio Theater with you. Please contact me at slipnut01 at gmail dot com Here’s some info and images of the Rio Theater:

mhall5 on March 1, 2012 at 4:36 am

The Rio has a new fan page on facebook. Lots of stories of the renovation and then change into a nightclub.

Mike_Moore on January 7, 2012 at 12:07 am

In 1968-69 this theater was used to host rock shows. I remember seeing Al Kooper, Michael Bloomfield (recall Super Session LP) with Nick Gravenites. With all the seats removed, this was a great underground scene. There was quite a crowd, so I was hoping that this would turn into something like the Fillmore (SF). Too bad the owners could not continue as a rock concert venue.

TLSLOEWS on March 28, 2011 at 12:09 am

What a great story balconyclosed.

celaniasdawn on March 27, 2011 at 11:52 pm

I went to the Rio theater once back in the late 60’s to see The Sons of Chaplain, a great rock group. Jerry Garcia was onstage with them, it was a good concert. It was a small theater the stage had pretty red draperies and gold tassles hanging down on the sides. I remember when Larry Singleton was paroled to Rodeo, the residents stirred up a furor, and the news showed the Rio marquee and it said “get out”

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 18, 2008 at 5:34 am

There were plans underway for a new movie theatre in Rodeo in 1936, when the October 17 issue of Motion Picture Herald said that Alexander A. Cantin was designing it. As the Rio was not opened until 1940, I don’t know if Cantin’s plans for the long-delayed project were used for the final building or not, but the clean style of the facade, with the strong vertical sign dominating, does resemble (on a smaller scale) a number of other Northern California theatres designed by the firm of Cantin & Cantin during the period, such as the State in Red Bluff, the Orinda in Orinda, and the Uptown in Napa.

kencmcintyre on February 7, 2008 at 8:50 pm

I think the ad and the photo are not supposed to be linked. The ad date is given as 1944.

kencmcintyre on February 7, 2008 at 8:37 pm

Here are two photos. The first is circa 1959. The second is undated:

robertgippy on March 14, 2007 at 5:11 pm

The Rio Theatre, in Rodeo, was a very comfortable and cozy movie house. The picture from the website above is the Rio, but a newer looking exterior. The island box office, doors to enter the theatre (which were beautiful circular cut glass) and the glass display poster boards were removed. The interior of the theatre had a main floor and a stadium balcony. Maria Muldaur (Midnight at the Oasis fame) dedicated a song on one of her albums called “rio” as she used to attend this theatre as a child. The interior is not the same anymore, white washed out, the beautiful mermaid murals were all painted over. Years ago we saw the movie “deathrace 2000” there, and there were only 3 other people besides us in the audience. Sad.
But, the rio was a nice theatre.

kencmcintyre on December 5, 2006 at 10:52 pm

Here is an article from the Oakland Tribune dated 2/9/76:


Two young men with unbridled optimism and a fondness for fantasy
plan to reopen the Rio theater here, probably on Friday night. But the Rio, closed for more than three years, will not be just a movie
house, according to Peter Van Kleef and Steve Levine. It also will present live entertainment, lectures and educational programs.

Van Kleef also wants to hold music programs at the 430 seat Rio “because it’s the ideal situation for small concerts”. The Rio has been closed since December 1972, when its last operator died.

The theater was built and opened in 1940 and flourished through World War II and into the 1950s before the advent of Interstate 80. There is no movie theater in west Contra Costa north of El Sobrante, Levine noted. He believes the Rio’s variety of offerings will attract people from as far away as Vallejo. Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill.

jdowling on August 2, 2006 at 11:48 pm

Construction of the $60,000 Rio Theatre was announced November 1940 by owner Sebastian J. Claeys. The 125x50-foot concrete structure seated 600, including 100 in the stadium-style balcony. Construction was set to begin February 1941. The first lessee was Cecil Pace. The new Rio was located one block south of the former theatre on Parker Avenue. (I am trying to confirm that the former theatre was the Marquee at 18 Parker Avenue, in a building that housed a drugstore, bank, bowling alley, and Rodeo Townsite Co.)

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 25, 2006 at 3:22 pm

A closer view of the former Rio Theater, Rodeo:

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on March 25, 2006 at 2:43 pm

Here is a closer view of the Rio Theater building:

mlind on November 10, 2004 at 11:59 pm

It was used for rock shows sometime in the 70’s-80’s.

GaryParks on October 16, 2004 at 8:44 pm

Although long used as a church, the building still looks very much like a theatre and is worth at least a driveby look for fans of near-forgotten smalltown theatres. The moderne vertical sign is blank but still survives, as does the marquee. I seem to remember that there is a terrazzo sidewalk and the original doors are still in place. The concrete structure of the building is very sturdy looking. Plainly, this was considered a quality theatre at the time of its opening, and quite deluxe for this size of town.