Culture News

The Royale to Close on Christmas Eve

When Andrea Beesley-Brown originally booked a pair of holiday cult films to screen at The Royale on Christmas Eve, she had absolutely no idea those would be the final flicks ever screened at her arthouse cinema.

Sadly, such will be the case as Beesley-Brown will close The Royale two nights from now after a mere six months in business. Black Christmas and Christmas in Acidland will be the last movies shown. The local cinephile, who's better known her moniker "The Midnite Movie Mamacita," announced the news via e-mail and on Facebook late this afternoon.

"Although short-lived, it has been an awesome experience and we have no regrets in taking the chance to finally open our own venue," she wrote in the e-mail. "Although an incredibly difficult decision, we are not in a position to take the business to the next-level of growth that it needs to be sustainable."

Beesley-Brown explains that she was racking up some serious debt to run the independent repertory theatre, which debuted in July on Main Street in downtown Mesa. Like any other mom and pop who have closed as of late, the reason behind The Royale's demise is ultimately finanical.

"Basically, we just don't have enough money. We started it with so little money and in order to move to the next step where we could potentially make more money, we need to invest a lot more and we just don't have it," Beesley-Brown says. "I'm not really in a position to get myself deeper into debt, so I figured it was best to cut my losses."

She seems in remarkably good spirits despite the closing of The Royale, which she says was "five years in the making." Beesley-Brown has been screening cult films and grindhouse flicks in various cinemas around Arizona since 2006, before opening a theatre of her own. It may have only lasted six months, but hosted plenty of cool cinema-related events in that time, including various theme parties (like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles event a few weeks back).

"It's really disappointing, but at the same time I know we tried. And I'm really glad that we did do it and that I kinda got it out of my system. And who knows, maybe we'll try something different," she says. "It's been a really fun experience. It was definitely worth doing."

Damon Foster, a rabid fan of Asian cult cinema who hosted the monthly Tokusatsu Tuesdays at The Royale, echoed Beesley-Brown's feelings about its closure in response to the news on Facebook.

"I've been bummed out about this all day (it's like a favorite pet has died). It was a noble experiment, and great fun while it lasted," Foster wrote.

The Royale is now the second geek-oriented business in downtown Mesa to close within the past month, as Evermore Nevermore shut its doors two weeks ago. Beesley-Brown doesn't think the closure of either business will mean that Mesa's embryonic geek scene is starting the go belly-up, however.

"I don't know if its a Mesa thing or like a [Valley] thing. There are so many cool little entertainment places that are struggling. And I think it's just people complain about [how] there's nothing to do, yet they don't support the places that are providing stuff," she says. "Had we been in another part of town, would we have done better? Potentially. It is kinda depressing for downtown Mesa though."

Christmas in Acidland and Black Christmas will screen at 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 24. Admission is $6-$15. Click here for tickets.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.