Cine Capri Theatre

2323 East Camelback Road,
Phoenix, AZ 85016

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This was the "Grand Old Lady Of Cinema" in Arizona, the one built especially for CinemaScope, 70mm, and 35mm widescreen movies. The Cine Capri Theatre opened on March 31, 1966 with "The Agony and the Ecstasy" & and Charlton Heston appearing ‘in person’. It closed in January 1998 with "Titanic" (ironically the last showing ending at the same time the "Titanic" actually sunk).

This was the first area theatre to get Dolby Stereo(4, & 6 Track) and showed "Star Wars" exclusively for almost two years. Among the 70mm films shown were “Alien", "Aliens" "Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom" and "Lawrence Of Arabia". The seating was up to 900, but with new fire laws at the time, 100 seats were removed.

“This theatre had no center aisle, (this was added later) you entered by two sets of theatre doors at opposite ends of the large lobby, with signs that told you what side of the theatre you were on. The fun was always people asking "Which side is the movie on?" after wandering from one side of the lobby to the other, and us saying; "It’s all one big screen!"

The entire theatre was oval shaped, giving the viewer the first impression that it didn’t seem like there was not as many seats as there were, or it was as big as it was. And unless you remembered where you were seated, by the time it got dark, you were relying on hand signals.

Then there were the curtains. When the movies were run with a professional projectionist, the curtains shimmered with gold light; The scrim looking like a golden waterfall, the travellers sweeping majestically to reveal… a screen from roof to floor, so wide it almost went to the exits on either side (about 60 to 80 feet at it’s widest point).

The seats were tilted just so that you barely saw the bottom of the screen, but who cared? This thing was awesome!!!"

Contributed by Sly Dog

Recent comments (view all 88 comments)

sylvedore on June 4, 2010 at 2:51 pm

The Cine Capri was truly a beloved piece of Phoenix history and it was a real tragedy to have it lost forever. Many groups tried to stop the demolition over the years; the best they did was post pone the inevitable. Like many other people that posted, if a movie came out that I was really excited to see, this was the only place to see it. I waited in multiple lines that wrapped around the parking lot on opening nights just to see a movie there. I was priviliged to see the Star Wars re-releases, the opening of “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”, “Citizen Kane”, “Doctor Zhivago”, “The Lion King”, and probably many more. One that particularly sticks out in my mind was a day viewing of “The Silence of the Lambs”, one where I snuck out of a college course just in order to take it in. The theater truly had no equal and I could hardly believe it when they finally tore it down.

IA on August 19, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Kent Peterson, You last posted here in 2004. As knowledgeable as you seem to be, I’m wondering if you are related to Carl Peterson; once owner of a service and supply business in Salt Lake. When I last heard of him, he was Director of Projection Engineering for Pacific Theaters. I knew him from projectionist days at Catalina in Tucson.

William on August 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm

IA, Carl is Kent’s father. Yes, I remember him from his Pacific Theatre days too. The studios would do a Dolby tech for a opening of a picture. And after they left he would come in and turn down the surround channel in the main house of the Hollywood Pacific Theatre. And I would come in and turn the amps back to the Dolby tech setting the day before.

rivest266 on January 3, 2011 at 10:43 pm

March 30th, 1966 grand opening ad is at:

View link

Charlton Heston was in person.

Hollywoodsteve on March 19, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Great ad, Mike Rivest!

chrisxxx on June 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm

My understanding is that the theater was not demolished but rather dismantled and rebuilt at another location. I was never able to see where it was rebuilt and it may be closed by now. Does anyone know for sure?

Hollywoodsteve on July 3, 2012 at 7:43 pm

It’s “new location” is in Scottsdale. It’s not the same….not by a long shot.

andrewgage on December 12, 2012 at 9:00 pm

Saw “Contact” there in 1997. What I remember most about the Cine Capri, aside from the airport terminal-sized lobby with gleaming white terrazzo flooring and tall windows, was the cinder-black colored curved exterior wall with gold flecks in it – and that odd moustache logo on the front. What an interesting mid-century theater. It looked massive from the parking lot. Too bad it’s gone. I ran across an old clipping from 1962 showing an announcement about plans to build the theater – apparently it was originally designed to be a geodesic dome along the lines of the Cinerama Dome in Los Angeles, but apparently that plan got changed. And that’s probably a good thing. The Cine Capri as built was a wonderful piece of architecture.

Thought I had a scan of the announcement, but I can’t locate it. But if anyone has a copy of the Feb. 1962 “Phoenix Days & Ways” magazine (there are a lot of them floating around out there because it was a phonebook-sized special edition to commemorate Arizona’s 50th anniversary of statehood), the announcement is in there.

marxvideo on December 29, 2012 at 8:52 am

We used to visit my sister Lillian in Scottsdale, and on one long trip from California in 1966 there were ads in our reading materials for The Blue Max. Coming in to Scottsdale there it was, at the Cine Capri, one of the most fabulous theaters I ever saw. I had just gotten my license and begged Mom for the car so I could go to the movie there, and she relented if I took my little brother Ricky. Those opening moments, as the biplanes soared over the battlefield on that fantastic screen are embedded in my brain — the fury of their machine guns reduced to tiny tapping high overhead. And I remember the lifting of her curtains before the show began — it gave any movie at the Cine Capri special importance and I saw a film there every time I came to town — if it was playing here, it must be good. Totally infatuated with the aerial scenes on that big screen, I left the theater in a haze, completely unaware I had left my little brother asleep on the cushions of that comfortable lobby. If I recall, it was circular and had very tall windows. We found him there a half hour later when I returned under scathing direction from my Mom.

Sushijeff on August 15, 2014 at 8:22 pm

I was visiting AZ as a child to see my uncle graduate from Thunderbird University and it was opening weekend of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. We saw the movie at this amazing theater. Now years later I live in AZ and wish it was still around!

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