Movies projected in Rialto’s future

Brock A. Stein | 1/10/2018, 10:13 a.m.
The roster of acts treading the boards at the Rialto Square Theater in Joliet has grown in the year since ...
The Rialto Theater in Joliet. Photo by Brock A. Stein

The roster of acts treading the boards at the Rialto Square Theater in Joliet has grown in the year since management company VenuWorks took over.

Former Saturday Night Live comedian Dennis Miller just played there last week and the theater is gearing up for a busy January and February with Illinois-born band REO Speed Wagon this weekend as well as upcoming shows from Three Doors Down and more.

In addition to those live options, the theater is also making plans to begin showing movies again said executive director Valerie Devine.

The idea started when the theater’s volunteer board purchased a new projector to replace the theater’s aging unit which was used to show holiday-themed films around Christmas time.

“The volunteer board said ‘what the heck, we show these great movies at Christmas why don’t we get a nice projector,” said Devine.

That lead to “wouldn’t it be nice if we took a night every month and make it a movie night,” she said.

With movie options for Joliet residents ranging from the regular movie seat with cup holder experience to new movie houses offering reserved seating and food and beverage service, Devine said that no modern theaters can offer the chance to see a movie projected in the opulent setting of the Rialto and on its 52-foot-wide screen.

Currently, Devine said that the idea is still in the planning stages with staff looking for a sponsor for the series and looking for a day each month to show a flick.

“Like with everything it starts with an idea,” she said.

Devine said that at her previous job at the Paramount Theater in Aurora, movies were shown every Monday so “I’m very familiar with the movie booking process.”

She said that the movie series would also offer a more affordable option for families on a budget and for those who remember it when it was a movie house.

“There’s a lot people in the community who remember the Rialto very fondly and have seen movies here,” she said, “And at $5 a crack it’s pretty affordable for everybody that way.”

She said that the theater may look at booking movies tied to a theme or something going on at the time such as showing a family movie during spring break.

She said that the series would also be a change from booking live acts which can be a long, arduous process.

“Booking talent isn’t like going to the store and putting stuff in your cart,” she said describing the competitive process which requires submitting an offer and waiting.

“I’ve submitted offers that take 6 months to get an answer,” she said. Since taking over the position in April, she’s been busy booking more shows with several coming up and big announcements for that are pending.

“February is going to be huge,” said Devine, “It’s giddy up time.”