Film and TV

Fans Gathered at the Bill & Ted Circle K in Tempe for a Movie and Some Memories

Kailynn Hall, left, and Harper Dotson showed up to the screening in their Ted and Bill finest.
Kailynn Hall, left, and Harper Dotson showed up to the screening in their Ted and Bill finest. Jennifer Goldberg


It was the busiest they'd ever seen that Circle K, several people remarked.

The parking lot of the convenience store located at 1010 West Southern Avenue in Tempe was bustling on the evening of May 18, when fans gathered at one of the local shooting sites of 1988 comedy Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.

Today, May 19, the store is now closed for good. But last night, Harkins Theatres hosted two screenings of Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure in the parking lot of the convenience store.
click to enlarge Fans lined up to get a picture with this sign. - JENNIFER GOLDBERG
Fans lined up to get a picture with this sign.
Jennifer Goldberg
Attendees were greeted by workers directing traffic, security guards, and news crews as they trickled into the screening. The Harkins Theatres popcorn truck was doling out snacks (a coupon for a free medium popcorn was included in the ticket price). Radio personality Jared Marshall from Hot 97.5 was running a trivia contest. And fans were talking about the end of an era.

Tony Richards brought his teenage daughter, Mya. He saw the movie when it first came out.

"It’s my birthday today, so what better way to spend my birthday than seeing one of my favorite '80s classics?" Mya said.

The team behind Cult Classics, a local movie series, showed up for the screening.

"We live and breathe retro movies," said Ruby Tate, one of Cult Classics' staff.

Comfortable beach chairs were arranged along the side of the building for the screening. Seating was assigned, and each guest received a pair of headphones to use for the duration of the show (although you could hear the movie just fine without them).

Before the film started, viewers watched a taped message from Alex Winter, who played Bill.

"Thanks to Harkins Cinema for putting on this amazing event," he said. "I sure wish I could be there but you know, I don’t think the phone booth is going to drop from the sky and land in this parking lot, sadly. All things must pass, and off the Circle K goes into the sunset, and with that, I hope you enjoy Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure."

click to enlarge Attendees wait for the show to begin. - JENNIFER GOLDBERG
Attendees wait for the show to begin.
Jennifer Goldberg

After some early technical difficulties with the sound, the crowd settled for the 90-minute movie. They cheered when the Circle K and other local landmarks, like Metrocenter and Golfland Sunsplash, appeared on screen. And they clapped at the end of the film.

Jasper Crawford, who hosts the 700 Tapes podcast, has discussed Bill & Ted on his show and explained why it was important for him to be at the screening.

"We talk about the Circle K every time we drive by it. We call it the Bill & Ted Circle K," he said. "I saw it in the theater when I was in seventh grade and it changed my life forever."
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Jennifer Goldberg is the culture editor and Best of Phoenix editor for Phoenix New Times.