Orinda Theatre Under New Management

Caroline Cook

The New Rheem Theatre manager, Beau Behan, takes over operations at the Orinda Theatre

Beau Behan and Derek Zemrak, President and founder of the California Independent Film Festival (CAIFF), will now manage operations at the Orinda Theatre. CAIFF, a non-profit organization, took over operation of the New Rheem Theatre in Moraga last June, and plans to manage the Orinda Theatre under a new for-profit entity.

The Orinda Theatre was born in the early 1940s when Lamorinda landowner Donald Rheem poured $400,000 into construction of the venue, paving the way for booming business. However, the 1970s-80s brought multiplexes to surrounding areas, while the single-screen Orinda Theatre struggled, as the firm that owned the theatre began negotiating demolition plans with local government officials. After preservationists, aided by Orinda voters, fought to save the theater, it was reopened in the 1990s with two screens for films.

In 2007, GLL Properties, Inc. acquired Orinda Theatre Square’s 900,000 sq. ft. property, leaving Orinda residents curious about what their future plans would bring. When GLL’s agreement with the theatre’s previous tenant had expired, the company began looking for a new operator who could attract more moviegoers, and improve relations between the theatre and other tenants in Theatre Square.

Zemrak, Leonard Pirkle and Behan, who is also the Director of Marketing at Zemrak’s production company, Zemrak Pirkle Productions, are teaming up to operate the Orinda Theatre. Behan will run the overall operations at both the Orinda and Rheem theatres. The theatres will be run together as a sevenplex theatre, with four screens at the Rheem and three at Orinda.

“Now that Lamorinda has a sevenplex theatre, we will try our very best to show different movies at both theatres,” said Behan. “This opens up a lot of variety for different genres for the Lamorinda community.”

The Orinda Theatre will continue to host the Orinda Idol competition and the International Film Showcase, while the New Rheem Theatre will remain the venue for the California Independent Film Festival. In addition, an opening celebration for the Orinda Theatre will be held on Fri. May 14 at the Orinda Theatre. The event will include a special reception featuring comedian and impressionist, Rich Little.

“The Orinda Theatre is a true gem,” Behan said. “We are proud to be managing it and look forward to be partnering with the Orinda commnity.”