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Over the Top! The Rio achieves its goal.

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 | Posted by



The sun continues to shine brightly o’er The Rio

Monte Rio’s most treasured relic. most revered icon and most visible landmark has been plucked from the ashes and survived against the greatest of odds.

The indomitable Rio Theater , a sanctuary, meeting place and love object for so many has surpassed its $60,000. Kickstarter goal and will not have to close its doors after all.


Last year, the big film studios announced that by the end of 2013 they would no

Community support catapults the Rio into the 21st Century

longer release 35mm celluloid, which means that all theaters must convert to digital projection equipment if they haven’t already done so. Because the nation’s small, independent theaters find it almost impossible to come up with the $50,000 that conversion will cost, many face extinction. The National Association of Theater Owners recently estimated that up to 20% of theaters across North America, representing up to 10,000 screens, may be forced to close.

Thanks to an outpouring of love and unprecedented community spirit, The Rio Theater will  not be among them.

Not since the Valentine’s Week flood of ’86 have the River communities come together to advance a cause which will affect so many people.

As of this moment, the Rio Theater has secured 440 backers who have pledged

Rio Theater owners Don and Suzi Schaffert

$62,878. Since the goal was $60,000 this means they are 104% funded.

Along with donations from some 440 backers (many of them local residents) the $500 donation which effectively helped The Rio attain the top of the mountain was made by screenwriter, producer and director, Zach Braff, whose Garden State and Scrubs efforts have earned him positive criticism as well as  a significant piece of change. Because of his fame, Braff has received kudos and appreciation from everyone who cares, but to say he “saved the Rio” diminishes somewhat the contributions of time and energy made by almost 500 other people. Stating  “Can’t wait to see a movie there!” Braff has delighted many people including those who have supported the Rio and watched movies there for years.

Says local resident Hans Bruhner, 

“I think it is wonderful that Zach contributed the final $500 that got the Rio to it’s 60k goal but he did not save the theater. There were volunteers who put in countless hours, several people who pledged $5,000 and Community First Credit Union who sponsored a movie day.” 

“A famous guy gave a decent sized pledge at the end” is not as dramatic a headline but closer to the truth. I hope he is excited about it and gets involved because that would be great but the community came together for this one and it is our wonderful community that saved the Rio.”

 And in a statement made by co-owner Suzi Schaffert who is currently vacationing in Kaanapali, Maui, “We are going digital!” Zach Braff just put us over our goal!!! How appropriate that an actor, writer, director and producer with his own Kicksrater project just put us over our goal!” “Thank you all!”

The amount of time alloted for the Rio to reach this $60,000. goal was 60 days, and there are still four days to go before the Kickstarter launch platform campaign ends. Any funds in excess of what the Rio has been shooting for will likely go toward a heating system or perhaps more comfortable seating.

The reasons the 63-year-old theater has garnered so much support are many, and mostly very personal according to each donor’s relationship with the Rio.

And to the amazement and gratification of many of those who have contributed time and energy into  supporting  this project, much of it has been forthcoming from  out-of-towners.

The Back yard BBQs, the raffles, The fundraisers, the screenings of The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Peggy Sue Got Married and Ryan White’s award-winning Camp Unity, the musicians who pitched in,  have all paid off.

And the huge boost which came from features and articles by KGO Channel 7 in San Francisco, The S.F. Chronicle and the L.A. Times have all turned what many believed to be an impossible dream into a reality.

Suzi Schaffert

The carbon arc welding rods which brightened the screen and the  two 35 mm 70′s-era Christie projectors have become a part of the Rio’s history and the love and dedication of the community have catapulted the humble Little Theater That Refused to go quietly into that Long Goodnight into the Twenty First Century. Welcome, Vacation Wonderland,  to the Age of Digitization.

  • christie

    I am so happy that you made your goal, and are able to stay open!!! I vote for heaters, over chairs. I love going to the Rio in the winter but it’s not enjoyable when you can see your breath. (I do , however appreciate the blankets). Congratulations Don, Suzi, and our whole community!

  • Kayte G.


  • Gville

    Very cool. Does this mean the owners will take down the ‘For Sale’ sign? We supported them- it would be a shocker if they sold to someone who took the property in a different direction- into a hotel, condos..

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