Like an indie oasis in the desert of mega-cine 30-screen Real-D IMAX cinemas, Harkins Camelview 5 was almost too good for its own good. Specializing in art house, independent, and foreign flicks that you really couldn't see in any other theater in metro Phoenix, Camelview likely served as a date spot for you at least once. Ya know, when you were really trying to impress someone.
Although preservationists battled to keep Camelview open, Harkins announced that it will be closing the beloved theater and opening a swanky luxury cinema in its place.
Unless your movie-watching relies solely on Netflix and Redbox, chances are you've been to Camelview, which opened in 1973. Maybe you saw your favorite Wes Anderson or Lars von Trier movie for the first time. Maybe you made eyes at some hottie during a foreign film there. Regardless of your personal experience, the theater offers a unique experience that many Facebook groups and petitions sought to keep open when plans to tear down Camelview initially surfaced.
Unfortunately, despite the efforts of a Facebook group of nearly 700 members and more than 6,000 signatures on the petition to preserve the historic location, Camelview as we know it will cease to exist by spring 2015. Much as it did with the revamping of the historic Cine-Capri theater before it, Harkins plans to open in Camelview's place a 14-screen luxury cinema attached to Scottsdale Fashion Square's newest mall expansion, on the northwest corner of Scottsdale and Camelback roads. It's unclear at this point what exactly will be built over the old Camelview location. E-mails and calls to Macerich, the company that owns many malls including Scottsdale Fashion Square, were not immediately returned.
Update: Kimberly Hastings from Macerich responded to our questions by saying, "At this time we do not have plans for the current locations, but as plans unfold we will be sharing our vision."
Plans for the new luxury iteration of Camelview, which will use the same name, feature a fancy menu, plush "ultimate lounger" chairs, 3-D sound, reserved seating, and even espresso -- just in case opportunities haven't come up for you to feel superior in other theaters. The new Camelview will also feature an indoor-outdoor rooftop terrace bar called the Vérité lounge, complete with cocktails, wines, and craft local brews.
The silver lining to all this is that there are plans to still showcase the art, indie, foreign, and one-of-a-kind flicks that made old Camelview a must-stop. Currently, Harkins is saving face with promises of expanding the smaller theaters' current artsy repertoire, while adding the best of the best wide releases into the mix. Though we're wary of the whole deal, we can only take Dan Harkins' word for it.
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"This theater will be a moviegoer's dream come true," he says. "We intend to transplant the soul of our beloved Camelview into this amazing new cinema. Independent, foreign, and art films are a part of our DNA and we are proud to be able to continue and expand Camelview's legacy to include even more films in a dazzling new venue."
The current Camelview cinema, along with Harkins cinema inside the mall, will continue operating until the new theater is ready to open next year.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version with new information.