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Night Out: Film Bars and Art House Cinema in Phoenix

Marquee outside of Harkins Theatres

Why go out for film magic when you can just stay home and watch Netflix or Hulu? Well, here are a few reasons that will get you off the couch and into some pretty cushy seats at the artsy Phoenix cinemas and film bars. It’s about way more than tubs of popcorn and sticky floors, so get ready to rearrange your film-viewing perceptions.


What do you get when mixing up movies and cocktails and then tossing in some pretty good art? The FilmBar. Staking a claim in the nightlife scene of Phoenix’s Roosevelt District, this mixed-media cinema house rests within a former rubber-stamp warehouse from the 1960s. Moroccan décor washes the walls and furniture, while local art takes center stage throughout the venue. The casual cocktail lounge is open to anyone, but it’s well worth buying an $8 ticket to see an indie, foreign or cult classic film in the cozy 70-seat theatre.


Harkins Valley Art

This one is for the movie nostalgia lurking within us all. Harkins Valley Art happens to be the longest-operating movie theatre in Arizona, and it nurtures that title in a big way. It retains the original 1940 single-line ticket window and marquee, and still uses neon signs. Don’t worry about film quality, as a million-dollar renovation in 2011 ensures state-of-the-art equipment and plush rocker seats. But it’s still one of the best places to find indie films in a genuine throwback environment.

AMC Esplanade 14

Don’t let the chain-name of AMC Esplanade 14 send you back to your couch and remote control – this dine-in theater complex is far from ordinary. It brings a touch of luxury to the movie-going experience, with the upscale MacGuffins pub and lounge serving handcrafted cocktails, espresso drinks, gourmet food and smoothies. Two separate film-viewing auditoriums feature La-Z-Boy seats, blankets and call-service buttons.

Pollack Tempe Cinema

Discount theatre loses its bad rep when you walk into Pollack Tempe Cinema. Although it sits within a typical strip mall, the venue features a fine collection of authentic movie memorabilia, including a museum-quality homage to Pirates of the Caribbean. You’ll find loads of movie posters, signed photographs and cardboard cutouts of stars both past and present. Don’t miss seeing the extremely quirky and furry Ragamuffins of Rock animatronics display in the lobby. It doesn’t hurt that ticket prices are just $3 any day, any time.