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I stand corrected about the Rotunda opening as a single theater, and thanks for the proof… I was young at the time, so maybe the theater just seemed like it was bigger. But could The Empire Strikes Back have been shown there? I swear I saw it there.
I agree with many of the comments here about the heritage of downtown Phoenix. I lived in Phoenix for two years and found the area to be so lacking in architectural past. I’m glad the Orpheum was saved, but with so much land elsewhere, I too am surprised that developers were allowed to bulldoze places like the Fox into oblivion without a trace. (I never knew it even existed until I read this.) Downtown Phoenix may have been dying in the 1970s, but tearing down something so beautiful like the Fox takes away part of a unique urban character of a city that you can’t get back.
By the time it closed, it was in pretty bad shape, like many inner city theaters. My cousin says it was rat-infested at the end.
The Rotunda did open in the 1970s, but it was not always a twin house. I remember seeing Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back there in 1980, and I’m pretty sure it was a full screen. Not sure if it was “Cinerama” but it was a full screen.