While the majority of the population was in line for midnight showings of the newest and last installment of Harry Potter, I made my way to a much less crowded theater in downtown Mesa. The Royale Independent Arthouse is the new permanent home of the “Midnite Movie Mamacita,” which shows independent films and B-movies.
Entering the cozy building on the corner of Main and Macdonald, I immediately realized there would be more differences between the Harry Potter goers’ and my experiences than just the film we’d be watching. The theater I stepped into appeared to be a retro lounge and shop.
Complete with chairs and couches, classic arcade game machines, and campy merchandise from Zia Records and Bookmans, I was impressed with the relaxed yet hip vibes the venue emanated. Did I mention this lobby also sports a big screen TV below a VHS library of cult classics for your viewing pleasure?
I was pleased to be greeted warmly at the multi-purpose counter for tickets, concessions and merchandise. Filled with fun collectibles and brightly-colored candy boxes, the headquarters of the venue dazzled. It was refreshing to see they’re both friendly and cheap; $6 for a movie is a steal after frequenting multiplex theaters.
It was now time to select my seat for the feature presentation “Hobo With A Shotgun.” The 80-seat theater is intimate and roomy, with a set up so effective almost every seat offers equally enjoyable screen-viewing. After reserving my seat with the ole sweater on the chair trick, I retreated to the lobby to survey the concessions to accompany the offbeat movie I was about to see.
The candy and drinks the snack bar offers are just as retro as the theater’s decor. The variety of snack bar choices really completed the uniqueness of the theatrical experience. I was thrilled to see my favorite, SnoCaps, back on a movie theater shelf, accompanied by other classic treats like Cracker Jax and diverse snacks like Pocky Sticks. They also offer mainstream treats including Skittles and Red Vines for traditional movie goers, which is comforting for times when I’m less inclined to branch out.
Venturing back to my seat, I was welcomed with previews of the theater’s upcoming attractions such as “Trollhunter,” “Wax Work,” and “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop.” The screen also displayed that The Royale is the new home for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, to be performed every Saturday at 11:30 p.m.
Hobo With A Shotgun, an over-the-top comedy about a homeless man who fights back against criminals in his city, proved to be a highly entertaining experience. Although the movie’s audience was small, the laughter was louder than I typically hear during comedies at the Cine Capri. The attendees that the Royale attracts are extremely passionate about film and greatly appreciate the humor of B-movies. Sharing a theater with these film junkies made me feel like I was part of a movie-loving community.
Andrea Beesley-Brown, owner of the Royale and considered to be the queen of cult movies in the Valley, has been independently programming film events at various venues for the past five years. She says she is pleased to have finally established her permanent residence at The Royale.
I recommend The Royale movie experience for any lover of cult and independent movies, as well as for anyone looking to change up their regular movie-going routine. A trip to downtown Mesa for some arcade game playing and humorous movie watching is a great way for young people to spend their Friday or Saturday night. It’s cheap; it’s highly entertaining, and it’s more than merely watching a movie — it truly is an experience.
IF YOU GO
The Royale Independent Arthouse
108 W. Main St.
Mesa, AZ 85201
Phone: (480) 649-0040
After the Success of the Soft Opening, The Royale Hosts Grand Opening Event, July 22
The theater opened its doors on Friday, July 8th for the soft opening, introducing the new release “Hobo With A Shotgun” to play all week along with a special screening of the revered cult favorite “The Room” the following day. These opening events proved to be a success with the first showing of “Hobo With A Shotgun,” selling out all 80 seats completely.
If you love film and want a unique experience with retro, campy films, join The Royale for it’s Grand Opening. This coming Friday, July 22nd marks the big day, featuring two showings of the new release “Trollhunter” followed by two showings of the cult classic “Army Of Darkness.” There will be prize giveaways from The Royale’s partner Bookmans, as well as plenty of merchandise for sale.
Andrea Beesley Brown, owner of The Royale, says that they aim “to provide a fun experience for people looking to see unique movies.”