Rheem Theatre

350 Park Street,
Moraga, CA 94556

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TJinSF on December 20, 2019 at 3:51 am

The Rheem reopened yesterday under Cinema West with “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.” I had not visited under previous owners/operators but enjoyed myself and will return as I am able. The staff members I spoke to were very happy to welcome us to the theatre.

The marquee and terrazzo entryway with external ticket booth (which appeared configured for use but was not open this evening) make for an impressive entry. The murals in the main auditorium, which I heard might be at risk in the renovations, were resplendent, and the electric recliners comfortable if not exceptional. Picture and sound also very good: at times the sound seemed to shake my body and chair, which was fine for a star war but might annoy during a different kind of movie. It’s a “giant screen,” wall to wall, so no masking or curtains drawn before and after the show.

Food was fine, the standard fare (popcorn, candy, hot dogs, nachos, pretzels) with a few surprises (well seasoned wedge French fries) and beer, wine, and frozen cocktails to come soon. Prices were comparable to similar theatres but I might try something in the adjacent shopping center on my next visit. There were a few nice places in the lobby to rest a while and start nibbling before entering the auditorium, although signs cautioned that the well preserved phone booths in one corner were for display only.

One last touch was a series of photos of stars in the hallway between auditorium entrances. Some usual suspects (Mickey Rooney and Margaret O’Brien) and some one sees less of (Cloris Leachman). While perhaps the theatre lacks the grandeur of some other historic houses, I found it warm, inviting, and charming. And I’ll confess that I enjoyed having a fancy seat to play with for a change! After witnessing the last night at the Guild in Menlo Park a few months ago, I was glad to witness the first night at the reopened Rheem, and hope this is the first of more to come.

Chase W.
Chase W. on September 26, 2019 at 4:16 pm

Purchased by Cinema West in 2019 and plans to re-open by the end of the year with several upgrades.

bufffilmbuff on November 19, 2018 at 10:34 pm

Based on the picture showing VENOM and FIRST MAN on the marquee, is it safe to assume this theater has reopened?

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on January 5, 2018 at 10:19 pm

The Rheem Theatre will be closing again, with its final showings scheduled for Sunday, January 7, according to this article from today’s East Bay Times. The theater will not be dismantled, for now, in hopes that it can be reopened in the future.

Mikeyisirish on June 27, 2012 at 1:14 pm

A 2010 photo can be seen here.

celaniasdawn on February 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm

This theater was built by the Rheem family, of the famous Rheem Water Heater Company. I think that every home back then had one They made a fortune and they are still in business. When we went there for the first time, we noticed attached onto the back of the Orinda Theater was a big neon sign in green. It said “Rheem Theater – 5 miles” and had a green arrow showing you the way, you couldn’t miss it you could see it from the freeway. It was a nice drive, scenic like you’re in the country, 2 lane road to Rheem Valley. What I liked about the Rheem was the seating. It was very comfortable and gave you plenty of room. Haven’t been there in decades, glad to see it is still open

UnknownCinemaDude on December 14, 2010 at 3:49 pm

Here are is a link to picture that shows the lobby’s and concession stands,Autoriums a really nice cinema! GLAD to see this cinema back open!. http://www.cinematour.com/tour/us/7180.html

idjones942 on November 24, 2010 at 11:21 pm

….Uh, hello? <poke poke> Rheem’s back in business, guys…

idjones942 on September 22, 2010 at 11:27 pm

Oh – addendum. So, the listing for this theater should say “Open”. Check out http://www.thenewrheemtheatre.com/ for the website.

idjones942 on September 22, 2010 at 11:26 pm

The Rheem’s back in business, with the California Independent Film Festival people running the show. (Pun intended.) My folks, some friends and I went there over the summer to see the (Swedish version of) The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. The lobby is pretty nice, and we know the manager a little, so he told us a little about the place, such as the carpet in the lobby is the original. All it needed was a cleaning. Hm. Not quite sure what else to say. Pretty nice place, and real attentive staff though!

scottfavareille on April 15, 2010 at 12:46 pm

According to KTVU-2 News, the theater will be closing after tonight’s performances. This theater was going to close this past December because of declining business, but the news helped bring a temporary uptick in customers.

This leaves the Orinda Theater (now operated by the operators of the Rheem after taking that theater over in 2009 from Rennaisance Rialto) as the only theater left, unless one goes to the Cinemark in downtown Walnut Creek.

Joe Vogel
Joe Vogel on September 6, 2009 at 12:52 am

Architects Cantin & Cantin designed the Rheem Theatre, and it opened in June, 1957. Photos of it were published in the October 19, 1957, issue of Boxoffice Magazine. It was a 1000-seat house with a large stadium section. The auditorium walls featured extensive murals, and the house had what was then the largest installation of rocking chairs in the United States, being the only theater west of the Rockies that was entirely seated with them.

The Rheem was also unusually spacious for its time, with row spacing of 42 to 44 inches, and the seats had extra-wide arm rests. As Gary Parks commented above, despite its late construction date the Rheem had the style of the luxurious Art Moderne theaters of the 1940s; but it also had the spaciousness which has only become standard in recent years, so it was both a throwback and well ahead of its time. The owner of the theater, Donald Rheem, could clearly afford the best of everything, and Cantin & Cantin certainly provided it.

wecs on September 30, 2004 at 3:54 am

I worked there for four years and have come to the conclusion that the company is either trying to loose money or incompetent. They made a 20 year old kid the general manager because he knew how to use the computer program EXEL. He had no idea how to perform in a leadership role and refused to make any decisions they may make him seam like “the bad guy” I saw plenty of illegal things going on there which I took no part of and was reprimanded for. I hear it is closing and I couldn’t be happier

GaryParks on May 14, 2004 at 4:08 pm

Though it was built as part of a shopping center and opened around 1958, the Rheem looks fully like a theatre that would have been built ten years earlier. One could say that it was the last movie theatre of the classic era to be built in the Bay Area. There is abundant neon on the exterior, plenty of etched glass and terrazzo in the entryway, and murals depicting the Zodiac in the auditorium. The developer who built it wanted a truly luxurious theatre, and thus, the era and tradition of the show starting on the sidewalk was prolonged just a few more years with the construction of the Rheem.