Perfect fit: Rydt Entertainment Systems provides one-source solution for MiT


“MiT is the industry’s top choice for a provider that offers all the necessary services it needs to build and operate a successful venue.”

Jerry Van de Rydt has been involved in the cinema industry for over 40 years. Previously, he ran the Los Angeles office of Media Technology Source for Phil Rafnson. Under his leadership MTS became the largest cinema equipment distributor on the West Coast. After outfitting more than 2,000 screens for clients such as Pacific, Edwards, Mann, Metropolitan, Harkins and Krikorian Theatres, among many others, he started his own company in 2002. Rydt Entertainment Systems (RES) specializes in FF&E, providing “Furniture, Fixtures & Equipment” for cinemas, institutions and post-production facility installations.

Since MiT acquired Rydt Entertainment in 2005, RES has operated as a separate business unit within Moving iMage Technologies. “With RES expanding so quickly in this marketplace, we were struggling to keep up with demand for services,” Van de Rydt recalls. “I reached out to Phil and asked him to join services with MiT to be able to facilitate our growth at RES and to keep up with demand. This enabled RES to continue to offer superior service and customer support.”

“RES provides a total, one-source solution to its clients,” he goes on to explain. “We are enabling them to outfit their venue with the most up-to-date and sophisticated equipment in the marketplace today.” The offerings include not only projection and sound, but also seating, screens and masking systems, acoustical wall treatments, low-voltage and regular lighting, concession equipment and digital signage. “Anything necessary to be able to equip the entire venue,” he says, “at the best possible price and with a total commitment to our clients to achieve the best presentation possible.” With that, he admits, often comes the challenge of convincing them “to work with a company that offers superior quality in both service and products without always considering the bottom line of cost.” Van de Rydt’s personal goal is “to bring a project in on budget and on schedule. We pride ourselves in offering not only a superior presentation but also superior service.”

In doing so, “we can tap into all the knowledge and technical expertise of the personnel at MiT.” He is grateful for having access to the company’s engineering and design capabilities, for example. “This is a tremendous asset for RES in facilitating all our customers’ requirements and requests. We also use the entire infrastructure at MiT including purchasing, accounting and all the other departments that enable RES to support our customer base.”

Even though Van de Rydt would “rather not comment on a favorite, as my other clients will be upset,” he provides an impressive list of installations instead. Successful cinema locations include Angelica Mosaic in Fairfax, Virginia; Arclight Cinemas in Hollywood (with Cinerama Dome) and Pasadena, Calif.; Alamo Drafthouse in Aspen Grove, Colorado; Yonkers, New York, and their Texas locations in Austin, Dallas and Houston. Van de Rydt and his team have also worked on specialty venues such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio; Connecticut Science Center, Hartford; Hammer Museum at UCLA, Los Angeles; and the Directors Guild of America (DGA) Theater in Hollywood.

Most recently, MiT and RES completed their largest and most important installation at the 6,500-seat Hall H of the San Diego Convention Center, better known as the “Inner Sanctum” of Comic-Con. Their work for the creative community has brought screening rooms to the residences of Steven Spielberg, Michael Bay, Rob Reiner, Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks.

Van de Rydt’s movie snacks are Red Vines and Diet Coke and his selection of best films includes the Godfather trilogy and James Bond movies, along with GoodFellas, Casino and Forrest Gump. “My favorite movie theatre memory is not being able to get out of my seat after the closing credits of Schindler’s List due to the emotional effect this amazing film had on me.” His involvement with the cinema business goes back further, of course, to a part-time college job at Xetron Corp. in New Jersey in 1973 where he met Rafnson and that turned into a full-time job. “I loved the idea of being able to be involved in an industry that provided so much joy to the consumer.”

Going forward, he believes that very industry will continue to provide joy. Without having read FJI’s exclusive series about Cinema Entertainment Centers at interview time, Van de Rydt predicts that exhibitors will go “into the business of offering a total entertainment facility, including not only the moviegoing experience in the facility, but also family entertainment such as restaurants, bowling and gaming. Consumers will be able to attend one venue that offers their families a total immersive experience for their entertainment dollars.”

Looking back at his eight-year experience with MiT, Jerry Van de Rydt has no regrets. “I couldn’t think of a better business to be involved in. Besides my wife, Lindsay, and my dogs, this industry has been my life’s passion. I feel the collaboration of MiT and RES was instrumental to our success. I had previously worked with all the key members of MiT, which enabled a successful transition.” And besides, he adds, “we all share the passion, loyalty and dedication for our core business of motion picture theatres.”