Location #22:

The Rialto Theatre

Q.  Where is it supposed to be?

This is supposed to be a movie theatre, named the Rialto,
somewhere in Los Angeles.

We see it three times in this movie: two very brief drive-by scenes, and one lengthy scene when Sebastian & Mia meet there on their first real date.

The first brief glimpse of this theatre comes just before the restaurant scene, after Sebastian has suggested to Mia that they see the movie "Rebel Without a Cause" at the theatre – since she admitted to him (at the jazz club) that she had never seen the classic film).

At 49:11, Mia drives past the theatre to take a look,
noting the title of the film on the theatre's marque:

And the final brief glimpse is a virtually identical scene, later in the movie (at 1:11:44), in which she drives past the theatre again, only to see that it has closed down.

But the
big scene shot here comes in between those two, at 52:33, where we see Sebastian waiting at the theatre (during a screening of "Rebel without a Cause"), waiting to see if Mia shows upfor their informal date.

Mia has been out on a date at a restaurant with her current boyfriend, but at the last minute she decides to keep the date at the theatre with Sebastian, and happily runs out of the restaurant.

Sebastian is waiting inside, as the movie begins, hoping she will show up:

Arriving late, Mia runs to the front of the darkened theatre, looking for Sebastian:

They spot each other, and she sits next to him, as they watch the movie,
and romantic feelings develop between them...

But just as things are beginning to heat up, the vintage film breaks, while they are watching the scene from "Rebel" that was filmed up at the Observatory.
Mia suggests that they go there in person.

Here is a YouTube video of the theatre scene:

Q.  Where was it really shot? 
This indeed is the Rialto Theatre.

But that's a little trickier than it may sound, because there are actually two different theatres named "The Rialto" in the Los Angeles area.

One, which is NOT the theatre used in this film, is an old theatre in downtown L.A.'s Broadway Theatre district
.  It opened in 1917, showing silent films. 

Alas, that downtown theatre has been transformed into an Urban Outfitters store. And although they kept the neon marquee, it doesn't look like the one in this movie,

The Rialto Theatre in "La La Land" is the other Rialto Theatre, and the more famous of the two,  which opened as a combination  vaudeville/movie house back in 1925.
It's still there, familiar marquee and all.

You will find it at 1023 Fair Oaks Ave, in South Pasadena, CA.

Here is a Google StreetView of the Rialto:

As you might guess from the name of the city, South Pasadena is located just south of the better-known Pasadena, California (home of the Rose Parade & Rose Bowl).

It is a favorite filming spot for Hollywood, because it's residential neighborhoods have a distinctively non-California, old-fashioned look to them. The architecture tends towards Craftsman cottages, and you are more likely to find pine trees than palm trees along its streets.

As such, when a filmmaker is shooting a scene that is supposed to be on a residential street in the Midwest or some East Coast town, the residential blocks of South Pasadena are a reliable place for them to turn. You've seen its homes in many movies, "Back to the Future", "Halloween", "Nancy Drew", and many others.

The Rialto Theatre itself has been seen in movies before “La La Land”.
It starred in 1992's "The Player" (with Tim Robbins) and in 1997's "Scream 2",
and it was also featured in a recent episode of "Modern Family".

Unfortunately, the Rialto has been closed since 2010, as the community decides what to do with the beloved-but-aging theatre.

Organizations such as "Friends of the Rialto" lobby to restore the theatre to its former glory. But recently, it was purchased by a new owner, and news reports are that it may be used as a church.

Here are two photos of the interior,  during the filming of "La La Land",
courtesy of FOTR:

Here is a link to a Google Earth 3-D view of the theatre.


Move on to the next movie location seen in "La La Land".


"La La Land" and its images are copyright Summit Entertainment
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