Seven Favorite Spots to Catch a Movie in Phoenix

2011 Sundance favorite Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey screens this month at FilmBar Phoenix.
2011 Sundance favorite Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey screens this month at FilmBar Phoenix.

​Like us, you may be in mourning for the closing of The Royale in Mesa after only six months, but that doesn't mean there aren't still a number of local venues for viewing independent and art-house films at decent prices (like, say, free). 

Sure, you'll sometimes have to compromise on seating quality, but isn't that worth it to see new masterpieces and old favorites on the big screen? 

At a time when film-house chains are desperately reinventing themselves into into lavish spaces that have more in common with the movie palaces of Old Hollywood (see AMC's Esplanade 14), these smaller theaters are focusing on a few great films and passing the savings on.

Here are seven spots to see movies on the cheap:

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7. FilmBar
 Rundown: FilmBar in downtown Phoenix continues to draw audiences with its selection of independent and classic films and documentaries, like the upcoming Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, which follows the rags-to-riches tale of Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash (screening Jan. 24 at 6 and 7:45 p.m.). Offering an extensive bar inventory with more than 30 craft beers (including 10 of your favorite local brews for $4-5) and more than 15 wines, plus snacks, FilmBar is an excellent spot to have an adult's night out at the movies.

Location: 815 N. 2nd St., Phoenix. (602) 595-9187. 

Cost: $7, with $5 matinees (including 8 p.m. Mondays) and a free ticket for a show on your birthday.

See six more places to catch offbeat and classic films for less after the jump.

6. Phoenix Art Museum
Rundown: Showing art films and films that connect with current museum exhibits, Phoenix Art Museum screenings include introductions by local experts and post-film discussions. True, there's no popcorn to be had, but with free (or $5) admission it's hard to complain. 

Coming next is Koyaanisqatsi at 1 p.m. on Jan. 22, a strange film about life and nature falling out of balance and set to a score by Phillip Glass. At 7 p.m. on Jan. 25, The Greening of Southie tells the story of the building of the super-green Macallen Building, with its futuristic, environmentally-friendly features.

Location: 1625 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. (602) 257-1222. 

Cost: Free sometimes, otherwise $5

5. Madcap Theaters
Rundown: This theater space was once abandoned before taken on by the Downtown Tempe Community (DTC) in what became known as the Mill Avenue District Community Arts Project (or MADCAP), which sought to reinvigorate the area through the reopening of this multi-purpose theater space. You've probably thrown spoons at the screen in one of its many past screenings of The Room; now, it's the new home to the Cult Classics series after The Royale's demise. 

Feb. 25 brings a Tim Curry double feature - Clue and The Rocky Horror Picture Show - beginning at 9 p.m.

Location: 730 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281. (480) 634-5192. 

Cost: $10, $20 VIP (not so cheap, but you get a lot for the price)


4. ASU Screenings
Rundown: Arizona State University is a great place to watch for free movie screenings and events, sometimes including visiting actors, screenwriters, and directors. This semester, the Cronkite Night at the Movies series continues on Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. with the PBS "American Masters" documentary Walter Cronkite: Witness to History, followed on Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. with The Devil Wears Prada (no doubt chosen as a commentary on the state of post-grad job searches). Popcorn is served and admission is free to these screenings, held at the downtown Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication 

Location: 555 N. Central Ave., Phoenix.

Cost: Free

3. SMoCA Lounge
Rundown: The Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art Lounge continues to show thought-provoking films with this week's Of Dolls and Murder at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 (doors open at 7 p.m.). 

Next up is 1,000 Journals, a documentary which follows the attempt to find out what happened to the 1,000 blank journals released around the world in 2000, at 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 16.

Location: 7374 E. Second St., Scottsdale. (480) 874-4666. 

Cost: $7

2. Pollack Tempe Cinemas
Rundown: When a new favorite film has left the chains, you can often count on finding it here - and at a severely reduced admission price. Now showing at Tempe Cinemas are recent gems like Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, The Rum Diary, and Immortals. Films here may also be available for purchase, but sometimes it's just better (and, in this case, cheaper) to see them as they were meant to be seen.

Location: 1825 E. Elliot Road, Tempe. (480) 345-6461. 

Cost: $3, $2 on Tuesdays

1. The Hive
Rundown: The Hive recently began free screenings with The Best of The Phoenix Film Festival series, which continued just last week. 

On Jan. 22, Razelle Benally will be at the gallery space to screen her short film Love is a Losing Game and short documentary Apache Chronicles (about the women of Apache Skateboards). The free event, featuring a talk and Q&A with the filmmaker, begins at 1 p.m. Check out The Hive's Facebook page for information on upcoming events.

Location: 2222 N. 16th St., Phoenix. (602) 254-1641. 

Cost: Free

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