Cerrito Theater sale wins final approval


The “Oversight Board of the El Cerrito Redevelopment Successor Agency” concluded its important task of ensuring that properties formerly owned by El Cerrito’s Redevelopment Agency were properly disposed of last night, June 27, 2018.

Their last bit of business, before justifiably congratulating each other for six years of hard, detailed, volunteer work, was to unanimously approve the sale of the Cerrito Theater from the city to Rialto Cinemas.

The sale is not yet complete, as various bits of real estate issues need to be resolved, contingencies and all that. But the vote means that, barring unforeseen tragedies, the theater will continue to operate as a theater with its historic elements intact for the next 99 years.

A dozen members of the community, some longtime members of Friends of the Cerrito Theater, but others just fans of the theater, crammed into a small conference room at City Hall to show support.

Members of the oversight board are members of our local community. Two, Sandi Potter, and the chair of the oversight board, Bill Jones, served on the City Council – including during the period when the city was acquiring and restoring the theater, which operates today as Rialto Cinemas Cerrito.

There was a bit of unspoken drama to all of this. This was the final meeting of the oversight board because in July it will be replaced by a county-wide oversight board. City officials wanted to make sure the sale went before a local board that would have greater understanding of the importance of the theater to the city – and would vote yes.

They got the package approved by council just a week ago – and to the oversight board in the nick of time.

Almost like a scene from a silent movie melodrama.

Speaking on behalf of Friends, Dave Weinstein told the board that the theater still has an important role to play in the city’s future, serving as centerpiece to what we hope will be an expanding social center for the community.

The oversight board clearly understood the value of the theater to the community. Members of the board stated that the theater has made an important difference to the economic and social wellbeing of El Cerrito.

Ky Boyd of Rialto Cinemas said the company understands and welcomes its role as part of the El Cerrito Community.

He also reminisced a bit, talking about how Rialto managed to make two positive changes in how the theater had been operated by their predecessor, Speakeasy.

Speakeasy showed second run, not first run films. Speakeasy did not allow anyone younger than drinking age in the theater (“Baby Brigade” nights excepted, and then only for babies.)

Ky said it took some convincing, but Warner Brothers agreed to let Rialto show “Harry Potter.” It did extremely well, suggesting to other motion picture distributors that El Cerrito was big time.

As to selling beer and wine with kids in the theater, “It’s not possible,” Ky was told. “It has to be possible,” he said. It was.

See you at the movies.

“Yellow Submarine” (1968) at the Cerrito on Thursday, July 12, at 7:00

Take a musical journey with The Beatles at the Cerrito on Thursday, July 12, at 7:00!

Can you believe it: “Yellow Submarine” has been sailing 50 years? A remastered version is being released for the anniversary. The Friends of the Cerrito Theater are proud to be part of the celebration—a celebration too big for just one evening, but with a regular run, starting on Monday, July 9!

The Friends invite you to be part of the fun on Thursday, July 12, for a special screening during the movie’s run, including the special touches that you enjoy during Cerrito Classics.

The animated story involves The Beatles going on a surreal journey to save Pepperland from the music-hating Blue Meanies and their minions: the Apple Bonkers, the Snapping Turtle Turks, and the Dreadful Flying Glove. Along the way they make friends with Old Fred and the odd Jeremy Hillary Boob, Ph. D. (who speaks only in verse). During this adventure we’re treated to sixteen different songs by The Fab Four, including “Eleanor Rigby,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “When I’m Sixty-Four,” “All You Need Is Love,” and the title track “Yellow Submarine.” The visual style of the movie borrows from the pop and psychedelic art of its time.

“Yellow Submarine” is truly a film for all ages. It’s family-friendly, but also sophisticated. And with all those songs by the most influential, creative band of its era, it’s a pleasure for music lovers.

As “Yellow Submarine” will be part of a regular run, the Cerrito’s regular prices will be in effect: $12.95 for adults and $10.95 for kids, students with I.D., and seniors. You can order your tickets at the box office or online.


So many choices at Scene! There are flatbread pizzas, a charcuterie and cheese sampler, baked sandwiches, “bites,” salads, desserts, and much more. You can enjoy them there, or have them brought to your seat while you watch the movie. The atmospheric food/wine bar is a fun place to hang out, with special wines and beers available. Check it out!

Upcoming Classics

Cerrito Classics will return in September:

  • Thursday, September 13, at 7 p.m. “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981)

See you then!

Consider attending the Oversight Board meeting this Wednesday


This is a reminder to supporters of the Cerrito Theater that there will be a final meeting to consider the agreement reached between the city of El Cerrito and Rialto Cinemas.

The Oversight Committee meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday, June 27 at City Hall in the small Hillside Conference Room. This is a public meeting and the public can speak. We encourage people to read the agreement and the agenda package.

Because it is a small meeting room and because we expect the Oversight Committee to approve the agreement we are not urging people to attend. But we welcome people to attend, of course. We hope a dozen or so supporters do attend, just to emphasize support in the community for retaining the Cerrito theater as an ongoing entertainment venue for the next 99 years, as the agreement proposes.

The agreement also ensures that historic elements of the theater are preserved for 99 years.

The Oversight Board must approve the plan to ensure redevelopment funds are handled properly.

Although the agreement does not maximize the amount of money the sale would bring in, it does something much more important. It ensures that the theater will continue for another century as an entertainment and social center of the city, and as the anchor of a lively business and entertainment district.

In the unlikely event the Oversight board votes no, the deal would likely fall apart. We believe the theater would eventually be forced to close.

The city must sell the Cerrito Theater because it bought it using redevelopment funds. The state ended redevelopment agencies a few years ago and is requiring cities to sell redevelopment assets.

The sale of the theater to the current successful operator, with the requirements that it remain a theater, remain a historic building, and continue to provide community days, is the best solution imaginable.

The state of California understands the value of the theater as a theater – not as a development site. Three years ago it approved a city plan to sell the theater as a theater. This was part of a long range plan for all the city’s redevelopment properties. The Oversight board also gave approval to the plan at that time.

The matter before the Oversight Board on Wednesday would simply put that plan into action. That is why we expect approval.