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We have a simple choice: convert to digital projection or close. Let's use this opportunity to make the Rialto the best it can be! Read more

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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on February 28, 2014.

We have a simple choice: convert to digital projection or close. Let's use this opportunity to make the Rialto the best it can be!

About this project

A Digital Dilemma

Over the next few months, Hollywood studios will stop producing movies on actual film. In fact, Paramount Pictures informed theaters at the end of 2013 that Anchorman 2 would be the last movie it distributes on film. So the end of film is now here.

This means that new movies will be distributed in digital format only. Theaters will receive each movie in the form of a hard drive to be plugged into a computerized projector.

Film is being phased out because the digital format is cheaper for the studios to produce and distribute. But there are also other benefits: a much sharper, clearer, and brighter picture on the screen, and the required sound system upgrades will be worlds better than what the Rialto now has.

The cost of this new equipment is beyond what an independent theater in a small town can afford. That's why the Rialto is asking you to make this crucial investment with us.

The Rialto Theater

The Rialto Theater has been in operation continuously since May 29, 1915. During that time it has been owned and operated by the same family. It is probably the oldest family-run movie theater in America.

The theater's original building was destroyed by fire in the spring of 1930, and the current structure was built a few months later. But rather than just throw up a bare-bones theater to get back in business as soon as possible, the Rialto's founder, George Olson, hired the architecture firm of C. Howard Crane, which also designed the famous Fox Theater in Detroit. Grayling's new theater was adorned with many historically significant Art Deco features — decorative molding along the high cove ceiling, murals on the box office walls, and beautiful stencils on the columns lining the auditorium. With plush carpeting and upholstery and the latest projection and sound equipment, the Rialto was designed to be the best there was — and as many people attested at the time, it was.

These special origins indicate the vision behind the Rialto Theater from the beginning: to create something truly grand — some might even say too grand — in a small town.

Restoring the Rialto Theater 

Restoring the Rialto Theater means once again making it the best there is. That's why this project is not only about buying a digital projector, but also replacing our seats, redesigning our concession and lobby areas, and refurbishing the historic paintwork and look of the theater. The result will be a state-of-the-art venue — by today's standards — that also preserves the most important piece of historic architecture in our area.

In addition to first-run movies, a restored Rialto will be able to host a range of cultural and entertainment events. This will draw additional visitors to downtown and help nourish other businesses.

Restoring the Rialto Theater also means restoring the vision of the theater's founder: to give all the people in our area, rich or poor, the best there is. If this was possible in 1930, in the depths of the Great Depression, then it is possible today.  

Invest in Grayling's Future

We are setting the bar high. We know that if we do not convert to digital projection, the theater will close. But we also know that if we only convert to digital projection and do nothing else, we will miss an opportunity to restore a monument to Grayling's past — right on the verge of our 100th anniversary in 2015. We would also miss the opportunity to develop the Rialto into a powerful engine for downtown Grayling's ongoing economic renaissance. With the money you invest here on kickstarter.com, supplemented by our own funds, you will be a crucial part of this renaissance.

This is a unique moment for Grayling. We are on the verge of losing our beautiful old theater. But we are also on the verge of creating something incredible that will last another 100 years. We have something that cannot be replaced. But it can be restored. 

Risks and challenges

This is an all-or-nothing campaign. If we do not reach our investment goal, we receive nothing, and none of our backers will be charged. Then the theater will close, probably in late spring or early summer, depending on when the remaining movie studios phase out film.

If we are successful, our main challenge will be managing the restoration project while also running our business. We have already begun working with the leading companies in this industry who have an established track record restoring and building some of the most prominent venues in this country, and we are confident that with our many years of experience running the theater we will be able to bring our project to fruition in time for our 100th anniversary in May 2015.

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Rewards

  • You selected
    Pledge $10 or more

    31 backers

    You will receive a Rialto Theater sticker, plus a free large drink on your next visit to the Rialto.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $25 or more

    174 backers

    You will receive two movie tickets including free popcorn and pop, a Rialto Theater sticker, and recognition on our video Wall of Fame.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $50 or more

    124 backers

    You will receive a Rialto Theater T-shirt and commemorative card, a Rialto sticker, plus two movie tickets with free large popcorn and drink, and recognition on our video Wall of Fame.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    114 backers

    You will receive five movie tickets, including free popcorn and drinks, a Rialto T-shirt and sticker, a commemorative card, and recognition on our video Wall of Fame.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world
  • You selected
    Pledge $100 or more

    54 backers

    1940 Rialto Program — You will receive a limited-edition, framed reprint of the Rialto Theater's 25th anniversary program, a Rialto T-shirt, a Rialto sticker, a commemorative card, and recognition on our video Wall of Fame.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $250 or more

    44 backers

    1915 Rialto Poster —
    You will receive a framed, limited-edition reprint of the 1915 poster announcing the opening of the Rialto Theater with a commemorative card, five movie tickets with free popcorn and drinks, a Rialto T-shirt, a Rialto sticker, and recognition on our video Wall of Fame.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $500 or more

    11 backers

    Authentic 1940 Movie Star Telegrams —
    You will receive a framed, limited-edition reprint of congratulatory telegrams sent by 1940s movie stars to Rialto Theater founder George Olson for the Rialto's 25th anniversary. Stars include: Gary Cooper, Cary Grant, Judy Garland, and John Wayne. This will come with a commemorative card, and you will also receive five movie tickets with popcorn and drinks, a Rialto T-shirt, a Rialto sticker, and recognition on the video Wall of Fame.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $750 or more

    0 backers

    1940 Congratulatory Letter from Gene Autry — You will receive a limited-edition, framed reprint of a signed letter on personal stationery from Gene Autry to Rialto founder George Olson sent on the occasion of the Rialto's 25th anniversary in 1940. You will also receive five movie tickets with popcorn and drinks, a Rialto T-shirt, a Rialto sticker, and recognition on the video Wall of Fame.

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  • You selected
    Pledge $1,000 or more

    30 backers

    Your Name on a Seat —
    We will install a plaque with your name on one of our new seats. You will also receive a pass for two people valid for unlimited admission for one year including popcorn and drinks, a Rialto T-shirt, a Rialto sticker, a commemorative card, and recognition on the video Wall of Fame.

    Estimated delivery:
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  • You selected
    Pledge $2,500 or more

    4 backers

    Community Movie Sponsor —
    You or your company will be the sponsor of a family movie at the Rialto that will be offered free to the public. You will receive recognition as the sponsor in all marketing materials prior to the event. You will also receive your choice of the limited-edition, framed authentic 1940 Rialto Program, authentic 1915 Rialto Poster, or Movie Star Telegrams. You will also receive two passes valid for unlimited admission for one year with popcorn and drinks, a Rialto T-shirt, a Rialto sticker, a commemorative card, and recognition on the video Wall of Fame.

    Estimated delivery:
    Ships anywhere in the world

Funding period

- (60 days)