Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cerrito Theater's Grand Reopening: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

By Nate Seltenrich
Thu, Jul 2, 2009 at 11:50 AM

How better to launch the reopening of a family-oriented community theater than with a midnight showing of the latest Harry Potter flick? Newly installed operator Rialto Cinemas -- who signed their lease yesterday afternoon -- had the good fortune of snagging a print of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The film opens nationwide on Wednesday, July 15, and Rialto Cinemas plans to join the fray by officially reopening the Cerrito Theater's doors with a late-night showing shortly after midnight on Tuesday the 14th (see the photo for visual evidence). Tickets will go on sale early next week.



There will be no food service or alcohol on day one, though they're both in the works, said Melissa Hathaway, Rialto's director of marketing and community relations. Minor cosmetic improvements are planned for the theater's facade and lobby/concession area, and those likely won't be ready by the 15th either. Beyond that, everything's in good working order and no major repairs are needed.

As for Rialto Cinemas' goals for the space, El Cerrito Redevelopment Manager Lori Treviño says they hope to create a community theater much like their Elmwood Theater in Berkeley. Programming will be a mix of community events, independent films, and first-run wide releases like Harry Potter.

It's been an astoundingly quick transition to a new operator: prior operators Speakeasy Theaters walked away from the theater a mere six weeks ago, on May 22. If the July 15 reopening happens as planned, that'll be eight weeks between closing and reopening, during which time El Cerrito's City Council and Redevelopment Agency maintained a strict and swift transition schedule that to date hasn't missed a beat. Sounds like magic, so maybe Harry was helping all along.

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