The original 625 seat Camelot Theatre located at the Palm Springs Mall was opened on February 4, 1967 by then President of Metropolitan Theatres Sherrill Corwin at a cost of $750,000.00. The proclaimed 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” as a fundraiser for the United Fund.
There were numerous Hollywood celebrities in attendance for that sold out performance, the guest list 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 afford the $100.00 per couple tickets to this major event, two radio stations in town, KDES & KCMJ broadcasted live from this event.
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, Camelot was expanded to include a second theatre screen and later 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. However, 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 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 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.
In November of 1999, Ric and Rozene Supple, the owners of R&R Broadcasting purchased the building and renovated the three-screen theatre complex. In late 1999, this complex opened under its new name, “Festival of Arts Theatres”. The theatre once again was proclaimed as beginning state-of-the-art. This newly renovated facility was beautifully designed and laden with the finest sound and projection equipment in the industry; offering an overall movie experience unmatched in the Coachella Valley and across the West Coast. 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. Once again, the theatre 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 and owners contemplated a name change in late 2001. The idea was to better distinguish the facility as a year-round venue. 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 Camelot Theatres’ name! Over it’s brief new history the Camelot Theatres has shown such acclaimed films as “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”, “Big Eden”, “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 Theatre is located on the South side of the Palm Springs Mall. Camelot Theatre is a three-screen movie house and entertainment complex specializing in the finest first-run art film, foreign film, and independent film. Completely renovated in 1999, it is one of a handful of theatres in the country with its level of technical sophistication and grandeur.
Our facility also houses the Camelot Café, which staffs a full-time Executive Chef; offering a complete menu of fresh salads, sandwiches, fresh baked goods, beer, wine and gourmet coffees. Camelot Theatre also features the CineBar, a full-service bar and lounge. We have a full liquor license and on and off site catering services for groups and special events.