2300 E. Baristo Road,
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Camelot Theatres (Official)
Previously operated by: Metropolitan Theatres
Functions: Movies (Film Festivals), Movies (Foreign), Movies (Independent)
Previous Names: Camelot Theatre
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 May 1971 the Camelot Theatre was expanded to include a second theatre screen and then became a tri-plex in the late-1970’s when the second auditorium was split to seat 202 and 214. The theatre and its owner Metropolitan continued their successful run through the 1970’s and 1980’s. But as competition began to take shape in the valley in the early-1990’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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Recent comments (view all 16 comments)
Well, well. Take a look at this:
Tucked away in Palm Springs is a movie theater complex called Camelot that shows mostly quirky indie films, hosts the local gay and lesbian film fest, and takes money from gay people to give to horrible politicians. The news broke this weekend on a local blog, where a lawyer unveiled the results of a little campaign finance sleuthing. The theater’s owner, Rozene Supple, has made a series of contributions over the years that read like a checklist of people who don’t like LGBT people.
Michelle Bachman? Yep. Proposition 8? Yes indeed. Allen West? Oh yes.
(We have to admit that there’s a part of us that misses Allen West, the super-crackpotty politician from, naturally, Florida, who lashed out at Lady Gaga for calling America “home of the gays.”)
And it gets worse: According to attorney Robert Tansey, who dug through Supple’s donation records, she was more than a little sneaky about how she donated to Prop 8. Initially, she listed the money as coming via her homeowner’s association. The record was only corrected after the association received a large volume of complaints, Tansey reports. (Conversely, we wonder how Bachman and West would react to her upcoming hosting of The Palm Springs Gay and Lesbian Film Festival?)
So, now that we have this information, what do we do about it? Well, there’s always the possibility of a boycott. Supple’s free to spend her money on nutty causes that hurt her own patrons–just as the people of Palm Springs are entitled to withhold theirs from her.
The optimal outcome in a situation like this would be an apology from the donor, a promise that it won’t happen again, and a big donation towards marriage equality. Might we suggest an amount at least equivalent to all the combined money she’s given to antigay causes? That’s what a Gold’s Gym franchisee in San Francisco did after it came out that the CEO of Gold’s supported a Karl Rove PAC: the franchisee cut all ties with Gold’s and donated a ton of money to local LGBT causes.
Will Supple follow suit? It certainly wouldn’t hurt to ask.
Full story here:
As a gay man that lived in Palm Springs for over 5 years, this came as a bit of a shock. I mean the gay film festival is held here for goodness sakes. This was my little piece of heaven in the desert. Where else can you see independent films on a 70 foot curved screen with 7.1 Dolby (when available).
I don’t ever like to get political on this site, but I do feel that her response to this should also be posted here as well.
An open letter to the Palm Springs community.
My name is Rozene Supple. Although I was born in the Midwest, I have been a part-time resident of Palm Springs since 1934 and a full-time resident since 1968. Recently, others have tried to paint a very one-sided picture of who I am. With your forbearance, I’d like to add some color to that canvas.
I love this community. I have seen it through good times and through bad times, and I have always tried to do everything I could to contribute to its well-being with my own energy with financial contributions and through the businesses that I own.
When my husband and I moved here, we invested in this community by opening businesses here. We purchased, refurbished and reopened the defunct Camelot Theatres, and purchased, then reopened a defunct radio station. We have also tried to do our part when it comes to philanthropic causes.
We helped found the Palm Springs International Film Festival, we funded the trauma center at Desert Regional Medical Center, we helped fund the McCallum Theatre, and we have given time and money to a wide variety of other organizations and causes.
Over the years, we have also donated to a number of arts organizations and charities, including the Desert AIDS Project, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, Equality California, The Judy Fund, Olive Crest, the Children’s Discovery Museum and others. We didn’t have to do any of these things. We did them because we love our community and its people. That includes the gay and lesbian community — a community that includes many of my closest friends, and a community I both admire and respect.
Having been born in the Midwest to a conservative family, and to a family that had been in the broadcasting business since before I was born, I have also been a supporter of small government and less regulation for most of my life. The broadcasting business is one of the most regulated in our country. I daresay you will find few owners of broadcasting companies that are in favor of big government or more regulation.
As a result of my background and my beliefs, I have been a member of and a supporter of the Republican Party for many years. As the party began to become more and more attached to social causes I personally disagreed with, it became harder and harder for me to continue making those donations, but old habits and longstanding beliefs about the role of government die hard.
I doubt anyone will ever call me a liberal, despite my rather liberal social beliefs and my commitment to the arts.
I can tell you specifically that I am not a fan of either the tea party or the religious right, and that I have been struggling for quite a while with the fact that my efforts to support fiscal responsibility in government have been clouded by these other issues. As a result of that struggle, and because of these recent attempts to paint me as someone I am not, I have decided that I will no longer contribute to any political entity that does not embrace equal rights for all Americans. Truth be told, I will probably stop contributing to any of them.
I realize that some people will find a way to criticize this decision on my part, or spin it in a negative way. That’s their option.
Anyone who knows me knows I answer to my own conscience, and not someone else’s opinion.
They also know there is far more to me than the picture that was painted in the Valley Voice column that was printed in The Desert Sun on Sunday.
Does the main large theatre still have the large D-150 curved screen up? They need to advertise this in the ads they run in Palm Springs.
January 6th, 1967 grand opening ad in the photo section.
February 1st, 2002 also in the photo section.
2 screens on May 27th, 1971. Grand opening ad in the photo section.
I worked as assistant manager and mostly a union projectionist at all palm springs theatres in the 1970’s Camelot, village, Plaza, palm springs drive-in, Sunair Drive-in, Cinemart, and the Palms to Pines 3-plex. The original projectors were not Norelco, they were Century. The main theatre had a CenturyJJ 35/70mm projector with 6 Bogen 100watt amplifiers. 5 massive speaker boxes behind the screen and about 28 speakers in the ceiling. F. Hugh Thomas was the manager and projectionist at Camelot from its start to the late 70s. He had customized the main screen so that it had 5 format settings. By pushing a button the black masking would change from a small Flat screen to 70mm wide which was about 12" wider than the original installation. I have been to many many theatres in my 65 years but nothing has ever been as spectacular as the opening from trailers to the main feature at the Camelot. When the first Star Wars film came out we added Dolby optical stereo sound. I sure miss those days and Mr. Thomas a true Master Showman. Stanley Diaz
I just did a tec service call for house One. They are running three films in 70mm the first weekend in May. This is one of the best 70mm theaters I have seen. Theater number one has two Norelco AA 35/70 projectors. The 70mm picture is wall to wall.
Is the screen still as pictured? I will be assisting in a screening early next month. I’ve never been to this theatre but I’m very excited!
A chronology of Palm Springs’ 70mm presentation history has recently been published. Camelot is mentioned numerous times.