Bethany Theatre

2324 West Bethany Home Road,
Phoenix, AZ 85015

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The Bethany Theatre opened on April 25, 1962. I remember seeing “The Black Hole” here as a kid in 1979. I also remember seeing a really awful film in 1981, which also happened to be the last film shown here.

The theater has remained standing for years after with the marquee sign saying ‘Closed for Renovations’.

The one thing I do remember is that this theater was built like a long shoe box – similar to the Katchina."

Contributed by Shannon Laine

Recent comments (view all 18 comments)

xdouggx on August 21, 2005 at 6:53 pm

Wow – I’m shocked to see people talking about SENSURROUND (from when Earthquake played there) having damaged the Bethany! I always thought I had sort of made that urban legend up in my own mind! I saw EARTHQUAKE only a few days (or maybe even the first night) it opened – the theatre was sold out, we were in the front row as a result, and it was L-O-U-D. As I recall, they had torn out a row or two of seats at the back of the auditorium to place the truly impressive row of speakers – we were a bit freaked out when we first walked in and saw them. No joke, the floor was really vibrating, so were the seats, and after 15 or so minutes of fairly well done (for the 70s) earthquake footage, we were pretty rattled ourselves. A few weeks later, the theatre closed for repairs (of some sort – that’s when the rumour started that they had damaged the building’s foundation), and it was closed for at least a week – I think longer. I’m pretty sure they re-opened with Earthquake and ran it a bit longer. I had heard then that it was no longer being played nearly as loud. Years later, probably in 1984 or so, I stopped by and found the front door open (it had been closed for a couple of years with the TEMPORARILY CLOSED letters on the marque already falling off). I found a guy in the dark, QUIET auditorium who said he had bought (or was trying to buy) the theatre and re-open it to show retro movies and sell BOOZE! He was trying to get a liquor license at the time (he had the sign in the window, I think), and I made it clear that if he did re-open it, I wanted to work there. I really liked that theatre as a kid – saw tons of movies there (Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, Rooster Cogburn & the Lady to name a couple) and I thought his idea was really cool (being a fan of the Sombrero and all). Never heard from him again – theatre never re-opened, but I’ve been to that type of theatre in Colorado Springs since then…

dantsea on August 9, 2008 at 11:59 pm

Ah, I remember the Bethany! That was the theater I was allowed to see a movie on my own for the first time… and it was The Black Hole. The McDonalds across the street from this place was cool, too, it had that kid’s play area made up with old railcars.

looker1208 on November 18, 2009 at 7:03 pm

About the same time they installed the speakers for Earthquake, Led Zeppelin’s movie The Song Remains The Same came out. It was amazing seeing at the Bethany through those speakers!

suzk on February 28, 2010 at 1:01 am

I just came across this site. Wow! I am from Phoenix and I remember watching the midnight movie, “Rocky Horror Picture Show!” Good times!! It’s to bad that its gone. I wonder if Metro Center is still around!?

movieguyphx65 on July 11, 2010 at 10:39 am

I also remember hearing about structural damage during the Bethany’s engagement of “Earthquake” in late 74' early ‘75. I do believe it was closed for a week for some repairs. I was not fortunate to see “Earthquake” at the Bethany, but got to see it later that year at The Hayden West Theatre off Grand and Indian Schoool. The Sensurround was awesome. I remember my dad feeling a bit shaken up after the show. My brother and I loved it though. I do believe “Earthquake” was the only Sensurround showing at The Bethany. After that, both “Midway” & “Rollercoaster played in Sensurround at the Camelback Theatre near Scottsdale Rd.
Wish we Still had theatres like the Bethany and theatres that would play Sensurround like the film fest this past June in Germany.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 12, 2010 at 4:33 pm

We played “EARTHQUAKE” and “MIDWAY” in Sensurround in The Imperial Theatre in Augusta and no damage was done to that theatre built back in early 1900’s..Don’t believe it closed a theatre,if it did it was shoddy work done building it.

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on July 12, 2010 at 4:34 pm

Shannon,What was the last movie to play there.didn’t notice if was mentioned above.

Allan on January 7, 2011 at 11:40 pm

The last movie I saw at the Bethany was one of the Witch Mountain movies in late 1981 or early 1982. Nice single screen theatre. As mentioned above it sat empty for quite a few years and then was demolished for a strip mall with Big Lots.

dickneeds111 on June 9, 2012 at 4:46 pm

When the Saxon theatre played Earthquake in Boston in Sensurround Some of the plaster in the ceiling came down according to reports I read. I had seen it in suburban Framingham a few weeks before it came to downtown. The Saxon only played one more sensurroud film and that was Battlestar Galactica. I took my youn son and there were no more problems. The rest of the sensurrounf films, Midway and Rollercoaster played in suburban Braintree at the General Cinema 4 or 6plex and no more in Downtown Boston.

Deavenson on April 20, 2013 at 5:41 pm

I remember seeing Noah’s Ark with Eliot Gould and Ricky Schroeder there June of 1980.

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