For 22+ years Rialto Cinemas has been an important part of the cultural landscape of Sonoma County. Our spirit line says it all: “Bringing the Best Films in the World to Sonoma County.” Rialto Cinemas opened on January 14 2000 at 551 Summerfield Road and rapidly changed the movie going landscape of the County. Though everyone told director/founder Ky Boyd an “arthouse” would never fly in Santa Rosa he persisted, developed an audience and became an institution! Rialto Cinemas changed the question from what movie is playing to what’s playing at the Rialto?
Rialto Cinemas has won numerous awards along the way for inclusion and his dedication to the community. The Theatre is a strong non-profit booster hosting innumerable fundraising screenings as well as multiple director appearances and occasional appearances by directors, producers, stars or subjects.
Ky established Rialto Cinemas on films built around strong storytelling that entertained and opened minds. When the opportunity to share The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD came along Ky took a gamble and became one of the few independent theatres to present the opera and to treat it like an event with reserved seating and ushers. Similarly, when the opportunity to share the National Theatre of London came along Ky saw that a movie going audience would also enjoy the stage and jumped in as one of 63 original theatres worldwide. Now, twenty+ years on Rialto Cinemas not only presents The Met and National Theatre Live but also Exhibition, Great Art on Screen and many other unique events!
When the first Rialto Cinemas, Rialto Cinemas Lakeside on Summerfield Road, was forced out Ky took the show on the road with “Rialto on the Road.” And when Rialto Cinemas landed again in Sebastopol the former Sebastopol Cinemas was transformed into Sonoma County’s premiere movie venue featuring “Dine-In Cinema.”
Voted by readers of both the Bohemian and the Press Democrat as Sonoma County’s Best Movie Theater, Rialto Cinemas continues to be loved and continues to strive to bring the best films and filmed events in the world to Sonoma County. Each year the theatre is also the host to Sonoma County’s best movie Awards Night party which benefits its long-term partner Food For Thought.