WARREN THEATRE

Theatre owner Bill Warren welcomes the media to the Warren theatre in Moore.

MOORE - Before videotapes, DVDs, Netflix and YouTube, Bill Warren recalls, movies were king. Going out to a movie was an experience for the whole family.

Now as owner of Warren Theatres, he wants to put the experience back into movie-going. After running a small, but successful chain of theaters in Kansas, Warren has brought his cinematic vision to Oklahoma.

Warren Theatre opens today in Moore and Bill Warren calls it the finest theater in the United States.

"Welcome to my dream," Warren said Thursday as he opened the doors to the media. "I grew up when movie palaces were movie palaces. We recreated that here. I hope viewers are surprised or wowed by what we have done here."

This is the fourth lavish theater Warren has built; the other three are in Wichita, Kan.

For Warren, Moore offered everything he needed when looking for a place to expand his dream, which took two years to build.

"We looked around," Warren said. "We felt like this was a great location. A central location. This is a regional type of theater. So even for the folks who live in north Oklahoma City, it's fairly easy for them to come here. The people of Moore have been great and the goverment very accomodating."

The $29 million complex is designed in vintage decor.

From the marquee out front to the diner inside, it has the feel of a genre that has been passed by. That includes 14 large (40 feet by 80 feet) screens that have 3D capability.

A diner that serves a variety of food from the 1940s is located inside the building.

"You can actually come in and get a bite to eat and not have to buy a movie ticket," said a theater employee.

In the theater, two showcase auditoriums with reserved balcony seating are offered. There customers, by just pushing a button in their seat, can order appetizers, desserts, meals and mixed drinks off a menu and have it delivered directly to their heated seats during the film.

Balcony seats range from $12 to $18 - others tickets cost about the same as other theaters.

With movie ticket sales decreasing every year, the 59-year-old Warren is offering amenities that movie goers will not find at any other theater. It's all done in an effort to enhance the movie going experience.

“I have the highest respect for my competitors and other theater companies," Warren said. "But most of them are owned by large circuits and have a board of directors. I think they do a fine job. We just have a niche. What we have seen is people who haven't been going to movies coming back. Hopefully that is because we are doing a better job"

While the theater is decorated to have an old-school feel, everything about the inner workings of the complex is strictly new age. According to Warren, it's the only fully digital THX theater in the country. The movies are shown off digital projectors instead of reel-to-reel film.

"We've tried to make this the most luxurious movie theater in the world," Warren said. "And the only way to do that is to provide the finest motion picture presentation possible."

From the drive-up automated ticketing machines to fully equiped game rooms and a fireplace, Warren seems to have thought of everthing to make the movie a pleasurable experience. That includes sound proof "cry rooms" that have even been installed in the two largest auditoriams for parents to take crying infants.

Warren may have found the secret to the movie business in the new century. It's just making a return to the golden age.

"The movies I remember as a kid were 'Ben Hur,' 'Greatest Story Ever Told' and those religious things and so forth because those were the big spectacular things that were coming out in the '50s. It has all the things I remember when I was a kid."

Michael Kinney366-3537mkinney@normantranscript.com

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