El Rio Theatre is Arizona's oldest movie theatre. Originally called the Apache Theatre, it was renamed El Rio in the 1930's. In 2015, we recognized the Centennial Celebration for El Rio Theatre!
Initial construction of the adobe and plank movie house was started in 1913. Completed in 1915, El Rio Theatre originally opened as the Apache Theatre and showed silent flickers on a hand-cranked projector in its debut to the townspeople. In 1937 the name of the theater was changed from the Apache to El Rio which it remains today.
El Rio Theatre became the source of many fond and often recounted childhood memories. El Rio was the community center where kids were dropped off by their parents with a couple of dimes in pocket money on Saturday mornings to watch the next episodes of Roy Rogers, Tarzan, and the Lone Ranger or a double-feature complete with Superman cartoons and “Movietone News” shorts.
Below are some of the photos of the old 35 mm film equipment we replaced when we purchased El Rio in 2014. We now utilize state-of-the-art digital projection and Dolby Surround Sound systems.