Rialto Theatre (New York City)

Coordinates: 40°45′23″N 73°59′14″W / 40.7563°N 73.9871°W / 40.7563; -73.9871
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Rialto Theatre
Address1481 Broadway
Manhattan, New York City
United States
Coordinates40°45′23″N 73°59′14″W / 40.7563°N 73.9871°W / 40.7563; -73.9871
OwnerParamount Pictures
OpenedApril 21, 1916
Years active1916–1935
Lobby of the Rialto Theatre during Cat People premiere on 5 December 1942
TIMES SQUARE map in 1916 with the Rialto and other theatres

The Rialto Theatre was a movie palace in New York City located at 1481 Broadway, at the northwest corner of Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street, within the Theater District of Manhattan.

The 1,960-seat theater opened on April 21, 1916, on the former site of Oscar Hammerstein's Vaudeville venue the Victoria Theatre. Together with Strand Theatre, they were the most important movie theatres on Broadway at the time.[1] It exclusively played Triangle Film Corporation films[1] but beginning in 1919, the Rialto Theatre premiered many releases by Paramount Pictures (then known as the Famous Players–Lasky Corporation) until being supplanted by the newly built Paramount Theatre in 1926 as the movie studio's flagship theater in New York City.

When Paramount sold the building in 1935, the Rialto Theatre was demolished and rebuilt on a smaller scale, with the rest of the building dedicated to shops and office space.

Cat People advertisements at theater entrance in 1942

By the 1970s, the theater had become an adult movie theater. In February 1980, it abandoned adult films in lieu of legitimate theater, becoming host to live theatrical productions. The building also contained a TV studio called Times Square Studios (not related to the studio owned by ABC). It was once home to daytime talk shows hosted by Geraldo Rivera and Montel Williams, and was the production center of WOR-TV.

The building was torn down in 1998 and 3 Times Square, a high-rise office building, was erected in its place.[2]

In popular culture[edit]

The Rialto's predecessor, the Hammerstein vaudeville venue, is featured in the 1948 film Portrait of Jennie. Jennie's parents are high-wire trapeze artists who perform at Hammerstein's until tragedy strikes. The Rialto itself also makes an appearance in the film, with a Mickey Mouse cartoon playing in the background.[3] Box office receipts from the premiere at the Rialto Theatre of Paramount Pictures's 1926 movie Old Ironsides (film), directed by James Cruz went to the USS Constitution restoration fund.


  1. ^ a b Terry Ramsaye (January 1925). "The Romantic History of the Motion Picture". Photoplay. p. 120. Retrieved April 28, 2018.
  2. ^ Stamler, Bernard (1998-02-15). "NEIGHBORHOOD REPORT: TIMES SQUARE; News on the Rialto? It's Finished. (Published 199". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-13.
  3. ^ Portrait of Jennie (David O. Selznick, 1948).