Harkins Camelview 5 Theatre, home to independent art and foreign films in Old Town Scottsdale, may close as a result of an expansion of the Scottsdale Fashion Square.
Scottsdale Fashion Square and the land Camelview sits on are both owned by Macerich Co. The planned expansion will include a new movie theater to replace both Camelview and Harkins Fashion Square 7 Theatre, located inside the mall.
Film practices senior Taylor Krauss said she hopes to someday produce and direct films similar to those shown at Camelview.
“It’s almost like going to the dollar theater,” she said. “It gives the whole vibe to the artistic theme. I’d want my films to be shown in a theater like that.”
Dan Harkins has come to advertise Camelview specifically at meetings for film students.
Those in favor of the preservation of the historic theater have turned to social media to promote their message. A Change.org petition titled “Macerich: Don’t demolish the Camelview Theater” that was created to preserve the theater had 2,338 supporters as of 2:30 p.m. Sunday. The “Save Camelview!” Facebook page has also gained support from locals and patrons, consisting of more than 400 members.
Councilman Guy Phillips of Scottsdale, one of the many signers of the online petition, mainly supports the architectural significance of Camelview.
“It’s part of Scottsdale,” he said. “We could make (the theater) a focal point (of the art culture in Old Town Scottsdale) instead of getting rid of it. We’re losing our heritage one building at a time.”
Tim and Patty Ashby are frequent visitors of Camelview and have been for the past 15 years, at least.
“It’s kind of like the heartbeat of Scottsdale,” Tim said.
The Ashby couple arrived at Camelview Friday night an hour early to see “Enough Said,” a film starring the late James Gandolfini. Camelview is the only theater showing the movie in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
The other films being shown at this theater are “Thanks for Sharing,” “Salinger” and “Inequality for All.” Camelview is the only theater showing each of these films in the area, as well.
Tim and Patty said they were both shocked to hear the news of the possibility of the theater closing.
“I would feel like the center was gone, and then you wouldn’t know where to go (for foreign, art, indie films),” Patty said. “Maybe we’d lose some of the culture of it, too.”
On the other hand, some believe that the expansion of Scottsdale Fashion Square would better benefit the community.
Cecilia Mariscal, a department store employee inside Scottsdale Fashion Square, considers the financial benefit the mall expansion may bring.
“I think it would be best (to expand the mall) because (Scottsdale Fashion Square) is a tourist mall,” she said. “People come here from Europe, Australia and Africa to come to this mall.”
Harkins said he has hope that the mall expansion might not include losing the theater. Harkins told National Public Radio on Sept. 20, “My vision is that someday, we could combine Fashion Square with Camelview and make a nice 12- or 14-plex, giving us some much more latitude to book the theater correctly, and book the art and foreign films, too. I predict that a theater like Camelview will always exist in this market. That’s something I’m very focused on.”
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Editor’s note: State Press columnist Peter Northfelt created the Change.org petition to save the theater. He was not involved in reporting this story.