2300 E. Baristo Road,
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The original 625 seat Camelot Theatre located at the Palm Springs Shopping Center was opened on February 4, 1967 by then President of Metropolitan Theatres Sherrill Corwin at a cost of $750,000.00. The heralded state-of-the-art cinema, equipped to the standards of only three other theatres in the United States, debuted with a star-studded screening of “Dr. Zhivago” for the United Fund.
Celebrities in attendance for that sold out performance included Barbara Rush, Suzanne Pleshette, Mr. and Mrs. David Jansses, Bill Bixby, John Shubeck, Lily Pons and Jolie and Eva Gabor. For those unable to obtain the heady $100.00 per couple tickets to this major event, two radio stations in town, KDES and KCMJ broadcasted the evening’s event live.
That evening set the stage for what was to become nearly two decades of success for Camelot Theatre as well as the growing chain of Metropolitan Theatres. In the early 1970’s Camelot was expanded to include a second theatre screen and then became a tri-plex in the late 70’s when the second auditorium was split to seat 202 and 214. The theatre and its owner Metropolitan continued their successful run through the 70 and 80’s. But as competition began to take shape in the valley in the early 90’s and the era of multi-plexs was born, market conditions began to change.
Citing tough economic conditions from competition, diminishing attendance numbers and high operating costs for the then 25-year-old building, Metropolitan Theatres closed Camelot Theatres on January 15, 1992 after the Third Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival. Saved from the wrecking ball by the Palm Springs Shopping Mall management as it searched for another tenant, the theatre remained closed and dormant for several years. Many various uses were considered including new theatre operators and even discussions that the City of Palm Springs should buy the building, but no firm offers came for nearly 8 years.
Then in November of 1999 Ric and Rozene Supple, the owners of KPSI / KDES Radio purchased the building and renovated the three-screen theatre complex as the new Festival Of Arts Theatres. The theatre herald once more the emergence of a state-of-the-art theatre beautifully designed and laden with the finest sound and projection equipment offering an overall movie experience unmatched in the desert valley.
Seizing on the opportunity for a growing market niche, programming for the new Festival Of Arts theatres was to be community driven, offering foreign and art films that appealed to the eclectic appetite of surrounding residents. The theatre also once more became the home for The Palm Springs International Film Festival, Palm Springs Festival of Short Films and an ever-growing list of other prestigious annual events.
Noting the exciting yet confusing list of film events springing up throughout the Coachella Valley theatre management contemplated a name change in the later half of 2001. The idea was to better distinguish the year-round theatre from numerous similarly named events in the desert. They reflected fondly with many long time residents on the theatre’s glory days while focusing on the exciting future that lay on the horizon. On February 1, 2002 it was announced that the Festival of Arts banner was to be retired to once again resurrect the name Camelot!
Over it’s brief new history Camelot Theatres has shown such acclaimed films as “O Brother Where Art Thou”, “Big Eden”, “The Deep End”, “Monster’s Ball”, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, as well as the local box-office phenomenon “Sordid Lives”. The quality presentation as well as the tailor made programming of unique films put the theatre on the map as the deserts first choice for superior entertainment offering rare, fun and intelligent films to be enjoyed by old and young alike.
Camelot Theatres is located on the South side of the Palm Springs Mall parking lot at 2300 Baristo Road, Palm Springs. Camelot Theatres is a three-screen movie house and entertainment complex specializing in first-run art film, foreign film, independent film features and special events. Newly renovated in 1999, it is one of a handful of theatres in the country with its level of technical sophistication. The large house (548 seats) also contains a performance platform live performances and the small house (152 seats) contains a lecture stage. The theatre is programmed 52 weeks a year and is also available for group sales and rental.
The facility also contains Ric’s Cafe serving a large canopied outdoor patio, offering a complete menu of fresh salads, sandwiches, bakery goods, beer and wine, and gourmet coffees. Camelot Theatres also has a full liquor license and offers complete catering services for groups and special events.
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