Debuting This Weekend: A New, Outdoor FilmBar Location

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Some welcome local arts news: The indie movie house FilmBar is opening an outdoor satellite location in Roosevelt Row.

The new location is part of The Pemberton PHX, a new creative space at the historic Sarah H. Pemberton house, which is located at 1121 North Second Street, just north of Roosevelt Street.

It’ll launch January 22 with a screening of Chicago, part of FilmBar’s Big Gay Singalong series

FilmBar owner Kelly Aubrey has been teasing the big day for more than a week now. On January 8, FilmBar posted a related image on its main Facebook page, showing a pair of stacked shipping containers where they’ll place a movie screen. The containers sit on a lot just south of the house, along with rows of colorful plastic chairs separated by a center aisle.

Checking out FilmBar before the big announcement.EXPAND

Checking out FilmBar before the big announcement.

Lynn Trimble

Aubrey launched FilmBar at 815 North Second Street in 2011, telling Phoenix New Times he was eager to “give something to people who say the city has no culture.” At the time, FilmBar seated just 70 people in a single theater. It’s always shown digital rather than reel-to-reel films. The current location has a bar and a small lobby space.

Like many local businesses, FilmBar temporarily shuttered for several months due to COVID-19. It reopened in late September with an additional theater for smaller audiences and screened films outdoors in its parking lot.

The venue stopped showing movies in December 2020 and stopped listing upcoming film offerings for a brief period. Screenings planned for the Orpheum Theatre had already been scrapped due to rising case numbers.

Checking out The Pemberton PHX on Second Street just north of Portland Street.EXPAND

Checking out The Pemberton PHX on Second Street just north of Portland Street.

Lynn Trimble

Around that time, True North Studio, which has developed The Pemberton as well as several other properties in Roosevelt Row, announced that FilmBar would be one of many partners for The Pemberton. The soft opening for the new space was held January 9.

That same weekend, FilmBar launched a new website, revealing that future viewing options would include renting screening rooms at the original location, viewing a changing selection of films online, and watching films outdoors in the new location. A January 15 Facebook post shows the shipping containers and movie screen at night, giving people a better idea of the setup.

FilmBar isn’t the first business to use the shipping container model for outdoor screenings. Developers in Boston, Chicago, and other cities have incorporated a similar concept.

Aubrey started a new corporation called FilmBar at The Pemberton LLC on December 18, according to Arizona Corporation Commission records. It’s listed as an “arts, entertainment, and recreation” business. A Facebook post in late December indicated that something was in the works. It read: “Coming soon. FilmBar like we’ve never imagined. It’s gonna be special.” 

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