Chandler Cinemas Closing, Planning Blowout Bash on Sunday

Yet another independent subculture hub bites the dust: This Sunday, June 21, Chandler Cinemas will have its final curtain call. Owner Matthew Yenkala says the popular art house cinema and regular host of The Rocky Horror Picture Show lost its space to another business that was willing to pay substantially more rent.

"As a business man, I understand," Yenkala says. "In this economic climate, more money is more money."

Since Yenkala announced he was taking over Chandler Cinemas on December 29, 2007, the venue's hosted a wide array of screenings and events, including local grindhouse guru Midnite Movie Mamacita's zombie and slasher flicks, the Arizona premier of REPO! The Genetic Opera, the 2008 International Horror and Sci-Fi Film Festival, 160 performances of Rocky Horror, and an alleged meltdown by Crispin Glover.

To commemorate its year and a half run, Chandler Cinemas will hold one last bash this Sunday. Yenkala says some details are still being finalized, but doors will open at noon, and there will be a screening of REPO! The Genetic Opera at 5 p.m., and a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at 7 p.m. Yenkala also hopes to have vendors and live bands. The press release for the bash states, "Specific acts not yet confirmed but are likely to include musician Page the Village Idiot, the Strange Family Circus, comedian Christopher McCullough, a screening of the cult classic Lobsterman from Mars, and a final trashy b-movie marathon by the Midnite Movie Mamacita."

Admission to the lobby events is free; admission to the screening of Repo! and Rocky costs $12.

As for life after Chandler Cinemas, Yenkala says, "I want to definitively and emphatically state that what's going to be next for me, personally, is sleep."

Once he gets some sleep, Yenkala plans to try and find new homes for Rocky Horror and REPO! "This is the sixth time in ten years Rocky has lost its venue, and each time, I've brought it back and it's been stronger than before," Yenkala says. "Who knows how the Phoenix will rise from the ashes once again?"

"I love fresh starts and reboots, and this is a great opportunity for a fresh start."   

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Niki D'Andrea has covered subjects including drug culture, women's basketball, pirate radio stations, Scottsdale staycations, and fine wine. She has worked at both New Times and Phoenix Magazine, and is now a freelancer.
Contact: Niki D'Andrea