Elmwood theater temporarily closed after car crash

The damaged entryway to Elmwood Theater after a car crash on Wednesday. Credit: Lynne Cutler

Rialto Cinemas Elmwood is temporarily closed after a driver crashed into its front entryway and main electrical room Wednesday afternoon, according to theater staff and citizen reporters.

The crash happened around 2:30 p.m., according to theater workers, but no staff members were injured.

Martha Ward, an assistant manager who’s worked at the location for about six months, was inside the theater when the driver crashed into the front entry wall, shattering tiling and the glass of two poster cases.

“I didn’t see it happen, but I heard it — it was very loud,” Ward said. “We ran out to see what had happened.”

Ward said no bystanders were injured, and two people and one dog in the vehicle were able to exit the car safely. The Berkeley Police Department hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.

A city red tag said Rialto Cinemas Elmwood is “unsafe” as of Tuesday afternoon. Credit: Kim Rohrer

“Our staff is, understandably, pretty shooken up — but the only damage is to the building,” said Ky Boyd, theater owner.

The crash jostled electrical equipment in the theater’s main electrical room behind the entryway, and a city red tag on the building Wednesday deemed it “unsafe.”

Boyd said their current priority is ensuring the space is safe for the public, but they hope to work with contractors to reopen it by Friday. It’s a big release day for moviegoers hoping to see “Oppenheimer,” which was partially filmed at UC Berkeley, and “Barbie.”

“We’re hoping that there can be a solution with an electrician in the city of Berkeley that will allow us to reopen by Friday — that’s my best-case scenario,” Boyd said. 

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