I believe the original Mystic was owned and operated by Dan Tocchini Sr and Guido Gerolo, later to be owned by Dan Jr, as the State Theater.
Never has an article made me so sad and so hungry at the same time.
Thanks for the generally supportive response to this post, everybody. Let’s address some corrections that have been suggested: 1. Dan Tocchini never owned the Midway Drive-In. Technically, Tocchini was a co-owner in the Midway Drive-In. 2. United Artists Theatre Circuit never declared bankruptcy. In fact, United Artists Theatre Circuit filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Sept. 5, 2000. 3. The original name of the Mystic Theatre was the State Theater! Yes, we figure Tocchini probably operated it while it was the State Theater. It was also called the Palace Theater, and then the Plaza Theater, but on his own website, it says he operated the “Mystic Theatre.” 4. George Lucas doesn’t run his own distribution company. No, he doesn’t. Do we say that he does? Lucas does exhibit legendary control over his films and how they’re presented, and that can extend into distribution terms. 5. You left out that Dan Tocchini purchased the Airport Theater! Airport Cinemas is mentioned here as one of Tocchini’s theaters; he built it, he didn't buy it. 6. ‘Up in the Air’ was never poised as a breakout movie linked to booking other films. You’re right. We admittedly chose an “arbitrary” example. 7. Multiplexes didn’t start being built when 'The Phantom Menace' was released. You’re right. Our mistake. We should have said “the proliferation of the megaplex” instead of “the introduction of the multiplex.” 8. Dan Tocchini Sr. never operated the Cal Theater. You’re right. The Tocchini family, however, operated the Cal after company control shifted to Dan Tocchini Jr. in 1957. 9. Mary Ann Wade has never worked for Dan Tocchini! You’re right - Tocchini himself incorrectly stated as such during a KSRO interview. 10. The Tocchinis never talked about running “beer lines” from Third Street Aleworks to the Roxy on the Square! That’s crazy! We know, right? That what we thought in 2002, when the owner of Third Street Aleworks himself mentioned to us that someone from the company had proposed the plan. 11. All this information is interesting, but what is your point, anyway? Our basic point is that people on both sides have been saying a lot of mean and ignorant things without bothering to understand a murky situation, and they should be a little more informed and a little more civil.
I thought the article by "Gloria Lagan" was quite well done, informative without cheap shots. We all know something about the rapacious nature of the entertainment industry but it seemed to me that there was a reasonable balance in this part of Sonoma County between the multiplex and the art house with the Roxy, et al, and the Rialto. One would wish that the Rialto "community", that came about because of what Ky and his team felt about film, could have been more respected. I believe it is undeniable that Ky brought something unique and special to the table that, like special restaurants, is not transferable simply by new ownership. The Rialto, make no mistake, is a gem, a special moment based on personality and vision. I cannot find it in my heart to wish Mr. Tocchini and his team ill. I just wish he'd been able to rise above what he said on the radio recently..."it's only business".
Let's see, Ky Boyd demonstrates a love of film and Dan Tocchini a love of money. I'll take Ky. Even if Dan can do what Ky does, I'd still rather pay Ky to do it. What a loss.
For anybody thinking that the Tocchini's should not be able to run this theater, please remember that they were the first to do it more than 85 years ago. The family probably has a pretty good idea of the movie business and what the Santa Rosa population wants.
The Roxy is a shit theater feeding commercial vomit spoonfed to the duncecap masses. People lick it up with their money and the owners get richer. This whole takeover is fishy and reeks of monopoly, like he always wanted. Now Tocchini has it all-in his little hands. Whatever happened to a free market?????
Brian is right. If Tocchini opens in Sep. and this so-called "boycott" hurts his box office, he'll be forced to show mainstream movies. That would be awful. I don't want to be forced to drive to the city to see indie films. Ky did an amazing job at bringing art films into one theater, but people implying Dan Tocchini cares only about money are talking out their ass. I have met him and we talked at length about movies. He was really into it, and cared. I wish he didn't take over the Rialto cause I like Ky too, but boycotting the place that shows movies you love is shooting yourself in the foot. Unless you just like Ky? Not to be so cynical, but those who love good film will go to see good film. The business is dirty. Blame the studios!
First of all, thank you for the article. It's always fun learning more of your town's history. I have lived in SR since 95, and before we had Rialto, we used to go to the city or elsewhere to watch independent/smaller movies. I remember when Ky and (I thought someone else - I thought they were two guys) opened up Rialto. We exchanged emails with them telling them we hope they would make it, but weren't sure if SR had the crowd to make it work. We were hopeful, but doubtful. We told them about a video store in city (Irving St area) that used to carry independent movies, and how we wish we had one in SR like it. They knew exactly what we were talking about. They understood independent/small movies. Since then, we've enjoyed going to the Rialto and have been so pleased to have them. While we also enjoy movies at the Roxy, your article's last sentence summarizes it well. I wish Ky the best, and hope that he continues to operate a theater in SR.
Well done! Thank you!
What bothers me Andy is yes Gloria does have a lot of facts, and research and such, but it is not complete. It is the intentional rude undertones towards Tocchini and the Tocchini Family that feels slanted to me. This article makes him sound in the beginning and the ending of the article that he is uncaring, heartless, greedy movie theater mogul. There is nothing said about his dedication and Love for the movie industry. Just words written about him being a good businessman. I should say they are overtones. As far as what you didn't comment on that I said about Ty Boyd and his cowardness - if he still had the lease, I most definitely would not go to see one art film at that the theater, due to the cowardly, slithering sneeky act of waiting until Tocchini was out of town to write this newspaper and the Press Democrate and God knows who else he contacted. I have known the Tocchini family for more then 30 years and only know of Dan's generosity towards friends and family members and his compassion and love of the movies, movie theaters and the business as a whole. He genuinely loves this business. GLoria left out theaters that Tocchini purchase "The Airport Theater" and didn't mention the original name of the Mystic Theater "The State Theater". Why? because she probably didn't do all of her research. Research doesn't only make the article and we all know that. That is not what sells. Tell me who wants to make money in all of this? Boyd was caught in the middle of this, but he is not a child and I am sure was well aware of what he was getting into when he bought this theater. Please no more victim card here. I can't stand it. If he was such an innocent person, than why did he wait to go after Tocchini until he left for the theater convention?? Seriously!!!! All in all, I question his true intention over all of this. Boyd is like a screaming baby going after Dan and the Tocchini family and wants to steal his business, because he IS angry that he lost his lease. Give me a break. Again, Tocchini was forthwrite and let him know personally. Let's look at the actions of Boyd and his antics. Same mentality as witch hunt.
There is one large ethical cloud that hangs over this history and "lease" transaction. That is the de facto expropriation of someone's (a rival's) business. "The Rialto" as we know it is the result of ten years of personal commitment, creativity and risk. The clientele, reputation, "the goods and services" have a hard-earned worth--and that has been hijacked. In the ten years of this lease, there has been a rise in the success and demand for small, independent and foreign films (Rialto). This is a class of films that has grown to dominate the Oscar field and is a coveted, although often small, part of the market. But then what could be smaller than the audience for The Metropolitan Opera--Live in HD? Nevertheless, Ky and The Rialto got it booked and it has played to sold out, reserved seat, houses! What Ky Boyd had the disposition, curiosity, taste and daring to program for the past ten years has been a credit to him and a boon to this community. What this story represents is a coup de theatre by a Cultural Oligarchy which sees no distinction between "movies" and "film." All is supersize me McCinema.
Catherine - I don't think this article is slanted at all. It explains why Tochhini couldn't book independent films and takes a few digs at Ky, digs that you obviously agree with. Beffore I read it I thought Tochhini was the big bad wolf. Now I know he's a local owner who wants to do good with the old theater that was taken away from him but he's being shouted down by Ky's fans. I love the Rialto but I think people need to chill out and give Tochhini a chance. The business is ugly and yes Ky was part of that too but what are we going to do? Not support it when Tochhini shows the foreign and art films and documentaries we want to see? That would be stupid. If they don't make money, they go away.
Still, a fair and balanced reporting job - TRUE journalism. Not what we see in the Press Democrat.
WOW. I wish everybody talking about things they don't know would read this. Thank you for an in depth job well done. You are right, we are lucky to have two big independent exhibitors in Santa Rosa. Don't forget Dave Corkill of Cinema West. He has theaters in Petaluma, Sonoma, Cloverdale, Sebastopol and he is independent too!
To all: 'Gloria Lagan' is an account utilized to post an in-house group editorial by the Bohemian edit team. We welcome your comments and corrections. We did speak with Dan Tocchini, Ky Boyd, David Codding and Lynn Duggan. Other sources include Gaye LeBaron and Joanne Mitchell's local history volume 'Santa Rosa: A Twentieth Century Town,' the microfilm archives of the Press Democrat, the property files of the Sonoma County Recorders and Assessors office, the theater archive of CinemaTrasures.com, recent KSRO interviews of Boyd and Tocchini, and OpenSecrets.com, a file of public campaign donation records. We also spoke with former staffers at both the Rialto and the Roxy, as well as former managers and employees of Coddingtown Cinemas, Empire Cinemas, Boulevard Cinemas, UA5 and UA6. Many filmgoers in Sonoma County have lined up behind battle lines on this issue and expect the Bohemian to do the same. We’re audacious enough to recognize the different kinds of value that both the Roxy and the Rialto bring to the community. The details of this story can be frustrating, but the theater business is as complex as it is influential to all. Movie theaters shape our lives. They are babysitters, teachers, matchmakers, friends. We feel an intelligent, informed discussion is important. Keep the comments coming.
To Gloria: I need to comment on your obviously slanted, article written about the Rialto Theatre. While you give much history about the past movie theaters, who owned what and the transactions, you fail to leave out a lot of details and I see your article slanted as targeting primarily the Tocchini Family. You fail to leave out detail about Boyd, Duggin and Codding. Not that I think that you haven't waisted enough time slandering the other parties names and business dealings. I also see it very cowardly for Boyd to have waited until the Tocchinis were out of Town to "spill the Story" to the Newspapers. But if he is Irish - "Well Top of the Morning to him" and Touche - Really???? Seriously, how cowardly is all I can say. He had to wait until they were gone. Give me a break. You all are crying over spilled milk seriously. Grow up!!! Tocchini called Boyd as you pointed out in your article to tell Boyd personally and so that Boyd wouldn't hear it from anyone else. I guess you would call that cowardly??? No. Upfront and to the point. Your writing is slanted and you have left out many facts and have not written a balanced article, but perhaps that was your purpose? To do the same thing that you felt was done by Tocchini-Durgin and Codding. Your not much different in your approach and style of writing then those you have taken offense too.
OK - They're all local business persons; uhh, something about who contributed to what candidate has something somehow to do with this, I guess...; and booking is dirty business. OK. I'll buy all that. I go to the Rialto because I love the atmosphere. That comes from who runs the place, and how. I don't feel that at the Roxy, or 3rd St, or the Airport. I'm really ticked, so I won't go to the new Rialto, nor will I go to any of the other Tocchini theaters - which have always felt a little creepy to me anyway. I will go to Sonoma, Rohnert Park, Petaluma, etc - and so will a lot of other people. Some of those thousands at the Roxy are us, too - so I'd say these folks are about to make the worst business move of their lives, and they don't get it.
This article covers some history of Santa Rosa theatres I never knew. And also a ton of misinformation, such as who operated the California Theatre and Midway drive-in and bankruptcy of UATC (didn't happen), that George Lucas runs his own distribution company and that multiplexes started being built when PHANTOM MENACE was released, details of block booking that doesn;t really exist, etc. I have a few years experience having worked for UATC (now Regal) from 1972-76 before co-founding Landmark Theatres which became a national art film circuit. I now operate an independent neighbrohood twin in San Francisco, the Balboa and know how difficult that can be. This is clearly a David and Goliath situation. Ironically, in his earlier days, Tocchini was the David as he battled the big theater circuits and now he is Goliath. Boyd can be accused of trying to keep other Sonoma County theaters from getting films in their early weeks at the Lakeside, but usually the independent distributors just don't have the prints available and can't justify the costs, especially when there may be high grossing markets waiting to play a movie. With the Lakeside now one of the best performing art houses in the country, sometimes with better attendance for a film than a theater in San Francisco, it is in the distributors' interest to do what they can to keep those engagements on screen as long as possible. It isn't fair to use UP IN THE AIR as an example of a movie linked to booking other films. Despite starring George Clooney, the film was never positioned as a commercial breakout and most of the other films Paramount releases are much more appropriate to SR Theatres...and will play there. And the reasons Boyd plays commercial films in his Berkeley and El Cerrito venues has a lot to do with the Goliaths that he faces there, Regal, Landmark and Century...and that he has learned that those neighborhoods respond best to a more commercial mix. I find it interesting that nobody is really quoted. Who provided the author with so much information, true and false? The parts about political contributions are a stretch because many Republicans are also supporters of the arts and surprisingly, to some like art films. The article doesn't know what it wants to say, siding with both groups at different points in the article. The sad thing is that when an exhibitor comes along who puts loving care and the patience needed into creating something that had not existed before, i.e. a full-time art house in Santa Rosa, greed and jealousy can wipe out those efforts so quickly. And if Boyd gets another location, the audiences may be the losers as a bidding war will result higher film rental terms for both exhibitors and that could mean higher admission prices for audiences. It also will result in the loss of the current carefully coordinated strategy of opening films that keeps two movies with similar audiences from hitting screens the same week. So we learned a lot but don't pass it all on as fact. My father, a retail businessman who had stores in both Coddingtown and downtown, used to ask me to explain the movie business and would then exclaim, "It make no sense. This doesn't fit any business model I've ever seen." And he was right.
What a terrific investigative piece: well balanced, I think, & certainly well researched! What an ugly situation. It seems like this is basically a long-standing, multi-generational pissing contest between 2 very wealthy businessmen, Codding & Tocchini, in which Ky Boyd & the Rialto got caught in the middle & got PISSED on. (The Codding & Tocchini families seem like the Hatfields & the McCoys, with an additional player, the Duggans, on Tocchini's side.) And the Winner is............. Tocchini/Duggan. (FIE on them!) The Loser: mature Sonoma County film goers
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