Though movie-goers have known for a while that Harkins Camelview 5 is closing, the art house theater's days are officially numbered. As of this writing, the much-loved 1973 movie house known for being a hub of indie cinema in the Valley has just over a week before its final films are screened and its last popcorn is served on Thursday, December 10.
The theater will be demolished to make way for expansions of the nearby mall, Scottsdale Fashion Square. However, the Camelview name will live on in a new luxury movie theater location, named Harkins Camelview at Fashion Square, which is set to open on December 17, 2015.
Camelview 5's fans will have a chance to say goodbye before then, as Scottsdale-based movie theater chain Harkins will present a lineup of films for the theater's final days that encapsulate what made it a cultural icon in the Phoenix area. The Camelview Classics Film Series kicks off on Monday, November 30, with a 10:10 a.m. screening of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Other films featured include Annie Hall, Fargo, Cinema Paradiso, and Amélie. Tickets to each screening are $5 and come with a commemorative pin (pictured above), and proceeds benefit Phoenix Children’s Hospital. The series concludes on Sunday, December 6.
While Camelview 5's architectural significance is debated (it's a mishmash of midcentury and Deco), its cultural impact is anything but. Phoenicians reacted passionately to news that the theater would be torn down, creating petitions and Facebook groups in attempts to block the demolition. Despite those efforts, plans to remove and relocate the theater carried on.
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In a 2014 interview, theater chain owner Dan Harkins told New Times that the end of Camelview was not his choice. "It's the last theater my dad built before he died in 1974," he said. "Its demise saddens me, and when it's torn down, I'll shed tears. But it's not my land, and it's not my decision."
Its most recognizable elements are Frank Lloyd Wright-esque lily pad structures (some describe the canopies as mushroom-like) that provide shade just outside its entrance. Though the theater itself is set to be demolished, the nostalgia-prone will be glad to read that, Harkins also said there was a future for those mushroom/lily pad structures. "There will be mushrooms out front," Harkins said of the new Camelview. "I promise, every one of us will have our mushrooms."
That promise also included one for a theater that's bigger and better than ever. And it sounds like Camelview at Fashion Square will deliver a luxe movie-going experience, with 14 screens, leather recliner seating that's available for reservation, gourmet concessions and a cafe, an indoor-outdoor rooftop terrace for cocktails, wine, and beer, and, last but certainly not least, a pledge to screen more art, indie, and foreign films.
Tickets to showings at the new location will be available through the Harkins Theatres website starting December 7.