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The Stab Premiere

Oct 17th, 2008 | By | Category: Haunted Hollywood, Movie Locations

This weekend I dragged my boyfriend out to South Pasadena to do some more stalking of the movie Scream 2. This time we set out to stalk the Rialto Theatre where the premiere of the movie within the movie, Stab, takes place. The interior and the exterior of the Rialto are both featured quite prominently throughout the opening scenes of Scream 2,and it is at the Rialto that Jada Pinkett Smith and Omar Epps meet their untimely end.

Interestingly enough, my new book, The Worldwide Guide to Movie Locations, states that only the exterior of the Rialto was used in the filming of Scream 2 and that interior filming took place at the Vista Theatre in Los Feliz, but that information is actually incorrect. As you can see from the above screen capture and photo, the lobby area of the Rialto was featured in the movie. The only reason for this inconsistency that I can figure out is that quite possibly the actual auditorium where Omar and Jada watch Stab was not at the Rialto, but at the Vista. But since the Rialto was closed while we were stalking it, I was not able to get inside to verify. 🙁

I do believe, though, that the bathroom where Omar Epps is killed was, in fact, located inside the Rialto. The reason I believe this is that the bathroom in the movie features Egyptian style writing and hieroglyphics on the wall, and the Rialto’s first owner, L. Lou Bard, created all of his movie palaces with an Egyptian theme. But again, I could not go inside to verify this. Looks like I am going to need to re-stalk the Rialto in the near future. 🙂

The Rialto was built by designer Lewis A. Smith for theatre owner and entertainer L. Lou Bard and premiered its first movie, What Happened to Jones, in October of 1925. In July of 1976 the Landmark Theatre Corporation bought the Rialto and due to fledgling ticket sales made plans to tear it down. Residents of South Pasadena protested, saved the Rialto from the wrecking ball, and in 1978 the theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But sadly, the Rialto still fell into a sad state of disrepair and closed its doors for good on August 20, 2007. Due to low patronage, the Landmark Corporation could no longer afford to keep the theatre open. And while the Historic Register prevents the theatre from ever being demolished, the Rialto currently sits vacant and delapidated, a distant memory of what once was. For those stalkers who want to see the inside of the historic theate – even though the Rialto is closed to the general public for day to day movie viewing, special events are still sometimes held there. In honor of Halloween there is even going to be a midnight performance of the Rocky Horror Picture Show held there on Saturday, November 1st. You can check out this website for more information.

The Rialto has been featured in numerous productions over the years. Besides Scream 2, it also showed up in the movie The Player as the location where Tim Robbins first meets Vincent D’Onofrio and later kills him. The killing actually takes place in the alley behind the theatre (pictured above). The Rialto was also featured in Old School and Kentucky Fried Movie.  The Rialto’s interiors were also featured in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video, as the location where MJ and his girlfriend Ola watch the video’s movie within a movie.  The Rialto’s exteriors, however, were not used in Thriller.  Instead, all of the exterior theatre scenes took place at Downtown L.A.’s Palace Theatre, which I have also stalked.  🙂 

Until next time, Happy Stalking! 🙂

Stalk It: The Rialto Theatre is located at 1023 South Fair Oaks Avenue in South Pasadena.



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  1. Ann says:

    Do you happen to know what campus was used for the fictional “Windsor college” in scream 2?

  2. Escott says:

    Hi! Thanks for the great page on the Rialto! I started a Facebook page to gather everyone interested in re-opening the Rialto, which has been closed now for a while. If you support renovating and reopening this beautiful neighborhood movie palace, join us!
    (I haven”t seen Scream 2, but I seriously doubt the bathroom was shot on location. The Rialto bathrooms are small and on the second floor, making them difficult locations, and there is pretty much nothing architecturally interesting about them Certainly no hieroglyphics!)

  3. Tom says:

    I’m not sure how much of the interior was filmed at the Vista. You might be correct about it only being the actual auditorium. However, the Vista interior was greatly renovated in recent years so I don’t know how much it would still look like it did in Scream 2

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. […] and a great one at that.  (Though the planetarium featured was a set re-creation.)  What about the Rialto Theatre?  Yes, the Rialto is an actual movie house, but it’s closed and has been since 2010.  You […]

  2. […] 1. Rialto Theatre (1023 Fair Oaks Avenue, South Pasadena) – Scream 2 opens upon a chaotic scene at a sneak preview of Stab – the franchise’s movie-within-a-movie – which is taking place at the supposed Ohio-area Rialto Theatre.  The historic 1925 venue is actually located in South Pasadena and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Though the exterior was dressed with an animatronic knife-wielding arm for the shoot, the Rialto is still very recognizable in person.  Don’t go hoping to catch a horror movie screening on the premises, though.  The 1,200-seat theatre, one of the last single-screen venues in L.A., was closed to the public in 2010.  Plans are currently in the works to re-open it, though.  In 2015, the Lewis A. Smith-designed property was purchased by a developer who intends to restore the site to its original glory.  In the meantime, fans can enjoy the venue via its many onscreen appearances in such productions as A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, Modern Family (Season 6’s “Crying Out Loud”), The Kentucky Fried Movie, and The Player.  (You can read a more in-depth post I wrote about the location back in 2008 here.) […]

  3. […] Instead, the video’s director, John Landis, decided to shoot the brief interior scene at the Rialto Theatre in South Pasadena.  The Palace was designed by G. Albert Landsburgh in 1911 for the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit […]

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