The original Cine Capri was the grande dame of Valley theaters. She opened in 1966 with “Butterfield 8,” and her trademark gold curtains revealed a treasure trove of cinema — “How the West Was Won,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Star Wars” and countless others — before developers torpedoed her and she sank, with “Titanic,” in 1998.
The original Cine Capri was the grande dame of Valley theaters.
She opened in 1966 with “Butterfield 8,” and her trademark gold curtains revealed a treasure trove of cinema — “How the West Was Won,” “Lawrence of Arabia,” “Star Wars” and countless others — before developers torpedoed her and she sank, with “Titanic,” in 1998.
Today, local cinema mogul Dan Harkins opens a new Cine Capri. This second namesake theater anchors the new Tempe Marketplace 16 — the first holds court in the Scottsdale 101 shopping center on the northeast Phoenix/Scottsdale line — and Harkins says it has the specs to bear the old girl’s name.
“The screen is one of the largest in the Valley: 71 feet wide by 30 feet tall. The sound system is absolutely the best: 146 speakers, carrying 30,000 watts. We have high-back rocker love seats, so people can see the movie and leave feeling refreshed,” Harkins says.
Big-screen movies were more commonplace when the original Cine Capri opened its doors; the new versions live in a different world.
“Large-scale films are very risky and expensive to do,” Harkins says. Studios won’t embark on one now unless it is more of a sure thing. “It has to be a popular book, or a sequel. Something where they know they’ll make their investment back,” he says. “You won’t see another ‘Heaven’s Gate’ or ‘Waterworld’ anytime soon.”
But the rarity of big-screen films does not mean their demise. “Epic films will still be produced — less frequently than before, but more carefully,” he says.
Harkins points to technical innovations and the resurgence in animated movies as positive signs for the industry.
“I think the best time for moviemaking is today, and big-screen films will always have a place,” he says.
And Harkins will have two Cine Capris — complete with gold, retractable curtains — to show them.
Which modern movies will be worthy of the elegant Cine Capri frame?
And which ones are coming here? A glance down the calendar gives us three must-sees for the big screen this summer:
“Live Free or Die Hard” (Now playing)
Harkins christens its Tempe Marketplace Cine Capri with Bruce Willis’ heavily armored ode to rogue cops and plastique. It’s not hard to see why: When a movie’s preview trailer shows an airborne police car take out a helicopter, you know you aren’t watching “Beaches.” John McClane (Willis) breaks the gridlock in Washington by using planes, trains and automobiles as projectiles in pursuit of deadly terrorists. Action movies are tailor-made for larger screens, where broad horizontals emphasize chases, gunshots roar through the extra speakers, and high screens allow the explosions to fully flower. The “Die Hard” movies are the most robust type of action flick; their only quiet moments come when the villains use silencers. It’s like a bar fight: Clear the floors, folks. These boys will need some room.
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” (opening July 11)
What is “Harry Potter” without the soaring verticals, creeping shadows and twisting staircases of Hogwarts Academy? “Remains of the Day,” with kids. Young Harry must conquer some new wrinkle of the wizard world in every installment of the story, and that world is a worthier adversary on big screens, which give full play to all the crazy surprises and imaginative nuances that the digital effects geniuses have dreamed up. “Harry Potter” on the big screen lets Harry, Ron and Hermione tangle with the supernatural in all its scary glory. “Harry Potter” on a small screen is like watching them wrestle weird Englishmen in cramped rooms. Harkins is planning double big-screen treatment for the boy wizard, occupying Cine Capri screens in Tempe and at the Scottsdale 101.
“Hairspray” (opening July 20)
“You know what looks like it could be a great big-screen movie?” Harkins asks. “Hairspray.” And he’s right: If anything is better than a singing, dancing, cross-dressing John Travolta, it’s a HUGE singing, dancing, cross-dressing John Travolta! “Hairspray” was adapted from the musical of the same name, and big screens are great for large-cast musical extravaganzas because they better approximate the scope of the Broadway stage. That means more dancers, more spectacle, more room for things to happen. And Travolta will probably be large enough to be seen from space. “We might be able to sneak it onto one of our big screens in July,” Harkins says.