Rialto 4 Cinemas
841 Gilman Street,
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Previously operated by: Renaissance Rialto
Previous Names: Rialto Theater, Rialto Twin
Essentially assembled in a West Berkeley warehouse from salvaged parts and ornamentation from demolished or renovated older theaters (its seats, for example, came from the Oakland Paramount), the Rialto Theatre opened in 1972, and was the first theater in what would eventually become the Renaissance Rialto chain—“the rebirth of the Rialto”, according to Allen Michaan (who had named it after an old theater he had attended as a child).
Initially a single-screen rep house, the cinema was expanded into a twin in October 1974 and became a fourplex on March 21, 1975, showing foreign and independent films and achieving a cult following among aficionados of those films.
Eventually changing trends, among them the then-recent arrival of the Shattuck Cinemas, took their toll, however, and Michaan eventually closed up shop at the cinema that began it all in 1989.
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