about Our Story

Our Story

Rialto Cinemas opened in Santa Rosa on January 14, 2000. Dedicated to providing a year-round venue for independent, foreign and classic films, in Sonoma County we chose a spirit line to reflect that mission, "Bringing the Best Films in the World to Sonoma County."

In 2001, The Northern California Bohemian (formerly the Sonoma County Independent) recognized the significant role Rialto Cinemas plays in Sonoma County's cultural landscape and awarded it an Indy Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts, the first time the award, now renamed The Boho, was ever given to a Sonoma County movie theatre.

In 2004, Face to Face selected proprietor Ky Boyd and the theatre for inclusion in its 20th Anniversary Celebration Exhibit titled "Brought to Light: Faces of Selfless Giving" in recognition of the on-going relationship between the theatre and Face to Face. The portrait of Ky was photographed byJohn LeBaron.

In 2005, the theatre was honored by the Sonoma County Mayors' Committee On Employment of People with Disabilities with the award for Innovative Media or Technology for a promotional screening of presented by the theatre for the film "Murderball" in which over 100 tickets were given to people with disabilities, including many who use wheelchairs. Both the Board of Supervisors of Sonoma County and California State Legislature presented certificates of recognition of this event and award.

In 2007, Rialto Cinemas entered the world of big screen events with the inaugural season of The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD. This landmark program was soon followed by Live in HD presentations from London's National Theatre, as well as the popular public radio shows This American Life and A Prairie Home Companion in special in theatre presentations.

In the spring and summer of 2010 Rialto Cinemas received special recognition from the Santa Rosa City Council and the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors - Ky Boyd was honored by both the City of Santa Rosa and the County of Sonoma for all he has done for the community with Rialto Cinemas.

When it was announced in the spring of 2010 that Rialto Cinemas had lost its lease on its Summerfield Road location as part of the property reverting from the property's master lease holder back to the family that owned the property, the outpouring of community support for Rialto Cinemas was staggering. Within two weeks a Facebook group organized independently by a former employee attracted over 4,000 members.

On August 23, 2010 a Last Night at the Rialto closing party was attended by 800 people.

In the fall of 2010, Rialto Cinemas went "On the Road" presenting events at the Sixth Street Playhouse in Santa Rosa including the popular National Theatre Live presentations from London's National Theatre, the Sonoma County Jewish Film Festival, benefits for the Sonoma County Library Foundation, as well as our own film festival. Under the auspices of the Jewish Community Center, Sonoma County, Rialto Cinemas was hired to produce and manage the JCC Presents presentations of The Metropolitan Opera Live in HD at the Jackson Theater at Sonoma Country Day School.

In 2011, the readers of the North Bay Bohemian voted Rialto Cinemas Sonoma County's Best Movie Theatre for the 11th consecutive year.

In late April 2012, 20 months after leaving its original location, Rialto Cinemas announced a new permanent home beginning in May in the heart of downtown Sebastopol. The journey continues...

Photos