Local theatres in limbo


Photo by Viggo Jabon

Rialto movie theatre

Lauren Oligino, R3 News Editor

On Aug. 23, the Rialto Theatre unexpectedly closed due to a dispute between the tenant, New Vision Theatres, and the landlord.

They weren’t kicked out,” Westfield Mayor Shelley Brindle said to Hi’s Eye. “They chose to leave. They didn’t even tell the landlord they were doing that.”

This brought an abrupt halt to Rialto’s 97-year run.

It’s sad because [the Rialto] has been there the entire time I’ve been in Westfield, and I’ve had a lot of memories there,” said sophomore Brooke Colannino.

Cranford Theatre, which was also run by New Vision Theatres, closed shortly after the Rialto. Unlike the Rialto, the Cranford Theatre plans on reopening Nov. 8.

They are doing extensive improvements [to the theatre] including new seats, carpeting and drapes,” said Cranford Mayor Patrick Giblin.

Cranford Theatre is owned by Jesse Sayegh, who is the landlord of Westfield’s Rialto as well. He and his family will now be the ones operating the Cranford Theatre when it reopens. Before it was sold, Sayegh operated the Westfield Rialto Theatre, and he will run it again if it reopens. Until Westfield and Sayegh decide how to make the Rialto fit into the modern day, the theatre will not be reopening.

However, Brindle is determined not to let this be the end of the Rialto.

The Rialto is an iconic, really critical part of our town. It’s the focal point, the heartbeat of the community. It’s really important for me to come up with a plan that we can reopen it in a way that is going to be sustainable for the long term,” said Brindle.

Brindle wants to include reviving the Rialto as part of her “Master Plan” which will reform downtown.

While it is uncertain if the Rialto will open permanently in the near future, the theatre will open for an upcoming showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” on Oct. 19.