The Rialto Cinema will temporarily close in Raleigh NC


The Rialto Cinema in Raleigh.


The Rialto Theater marquee – the one with the ever-changing list of movie titles – won’t be changed again for some time.

The historic theatre, one of the oldest independent cinemas in the Triangle, is temporarily closing after its owner, Bill Peebles, announced his retirement from owning and managing Raleigh’s beloved staple.

The Rialto Theater this week announced its final slate of films before closing its doors, a mix of recent releases and the classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

But they won’t be the last to appear on the Five Points Theater screen, Peebles assured fans of an Instagram post on behalf of the Rialto Theatre. The Rialto is expected to “resume operations in the near future” and specialize in art and independent films, as well as special events.

Peebles, who announced his retirement earlier this month, cited his retirement and market conditions for the temporary suspension of operations. He also explained how there is “a hole in the available products now hitting cinemas across the country” due to the pandemic, affecting films that can be screened at Rialto.

“As the country was shut down for the pandemic, so was Hollywood,” he wrote.

He previously told The News & Observer that the theater’s future was unclear during the process of finding new owners.

On Tuesday he told The N&O he still had no timetable for a transfer of ownership, but hoped the Rialto would have new owners by the end of the year.

He is excited about the future of Rialto, which he hopes will enhance what he has done to make theater, started in the 1970s, what it is today.

“What happens is we interview multiple groups of people and we try to select the people who have the best ideas,” Peebles said in a phone interview. “I expect the renovation of the cosmetic appearance (of the theatre) to change…and it will take more than a day. It will be less than six months. It may take two weeks, it may take two months .

The marquee of the closed Rialto Theater on Glenwood Avenue displays a message during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in North Carolina Saturday evening March 21, 2020. Scott Sharpe [email protected]

Rialto showing films before closing

Long-time and recent Rialto patrons will have the opportunity to experience the theater’s latest performances under the direction of its original owner.

On Friday, the Rialto will air “Mrs. Harris Goes to Harris” until Wednesday, August 24. The Rialto will air the documentaries “Fire of Love” and “Sons of Mezcal” on August 25.

“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” will screen three times on August 26. Peebles said it was fitting that the final scene of the legendary horror film and musical – traditionally shown in theaters with live actors – takes place in an old theater.

The cast of “Shadow” actors, who have performed at the theater for decades, will perform at all three “Rocky Horror” performances at 7 p.m., 10 p.m., and midnight.

The three screenings will bring out all generations of Rocky Horror fans, he says. “You have the Rocky kids at midnight, you have their parents at 10 p.m. and then you have their parents at 7 p.m.

Peebles recalled his long-held motto for decades of hosting “Rocky Horror” screenings, attended by different generations of young people for years.

“I can’t save the world but we can keep 125 children off the streets at night,” he said.

The Rialto will also host a laser show on the evening of August 27. Peebles said he avoided putting on the show because it means he can’t screen other films in the same theater that day. But now is finally the right time.

The multicolored laser show, in which the air will be veiled and “painted” with lasers and projected images, is something he has wanted to do for a long time, he said.

Glenwood Avenue’s “Last Marquee Change” will take place on August 28 at 1 p.m.

Peebles said he would sell management rights to Rialto to “a person or group of people capable of operating the theater in the future”.

Peebles said it would only be sold to someone knowledgeable in marketing, the movie industry and live entertainment, instead of a “pious pious”.

“Retiring is one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make, but I know it’s time,” wrote Peebles, who ran the theater for 32 years. “I will truly miss our wonderful staff and fiercely loyal customers. See you at the movies.

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Aaron Sánchez-Guerra is a breaking news reporter for The News & Observer and previously covered business and real estate for the paper. His experience includes reporting for WLRN Public Media in Miami and as a freelance journalist in Raleigh and Charlotte covering Latin American communities. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University, a native Spanish speaker, and was born in Mexico. You can follow his work on Twitter at @aaronsguerra.

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