Warren Theatres, 1000 Telephone Road in Moore is the kind of cinema house many cities would love to have. The building is well designed outside, tastefully appointed inside and thoughtfully managed by CEO Bill Warren and his team.
Warren is on record as believing that “bigger and better” is the way to enhance his customers’ experience. That shows in the theatre’s lavish surroundings, fourteen immense silver screens and close attention to a variety of details. It has been a jewel in Moore’s retail portfolio crown since 2008.
“A movie theatre is different from most retail operations because it brings a quality of life component,” Moore’s Marketing and Economic Development Director Deidre Ebrey said. “It’s an entertainment venue and draws tourism.”
For her, that term encompasses anyone who doesn’t live in Moore. The theatre is a magnet for people every day of the year, rain or shine. Hot or cold outside, people still go to the movies. The Warren is separated only by an access road from I-35 that’s traveled by thousands every day.
“It has drive-by allure and can be the perfect reason for people to stop on their way to somewhere else to watch a movie, have a meal and get a room for the night,” Ebrey said. “I can remember when Moore didn’t have a movie theatre at all, and it was depressing.”
It’s to Ebrey’s credit that she led the charge, landing the grand theatre in her town. Bill Warren is known for laughing off economic downturns and the project’s timing coincided with the worst one since the Great Depression. It was his first theatre in Oklahoma after opening several in Kansas. There’s now one in Broken Arrow, too.
“Bill Warren took a risk coming here but it turned out to work really well for him,” Ebrey said. “Any other of the theatre chains we might have gotten would have paled in comparison to what he builds. In my opinion we got the best of the best.”
Warren worked closely with Ebrey and her staff, even down to asking their opinions about the theatre’s interior decor. After the devastating 2013 tornado, he was on the phone, not inquiring about his building but about the people. Damage to the building was close to $1 million but there was never any question that he would re-invest.
“They were so interested in staying open for the resiliency of the community,” Ebrey said. “But they didn’t want to be seen as taking advantage of us in anyway. They were considerate in every facet of their operation. There was always dialogue between either myself, the mayor or city manager or all of us together.”
Very few of the businesses that have sprung up around the Warren would admit that they’re there because of its close proximity. But there are a lot of them and there’s a definite synergy going on. Food service is a natural because so many like to have a bite to eat before or after a show. All within walking distance of the Warren box office are Boba Café, Hollie’s Flat Iron Steakhouse, Furr’s Buffet, Smashburger, Firehouse Subs, Oliveto Italian Bistro, Panda Express, Freddy’s Steakburger and Frozen Yogurt, Louie’s Grill, Go-Go Sushi and B&B Pho shop. The theatre itself has an in-house vintage-style diner and other dining options.
“The Warren has added to our boom, no doubt, and it has enhanced everything we have to offer here,” Ebrey said. “I don’t even want to think what our community would be like without them.”
Luxury suites, IMAX viewing capability, balcony seating, game room and cocktail lounge make the place a destination for many. Some people go there just to hang out in the lobby, people-watch, have a drink and meet friends without even seeing a movie.
“People will drive past multiple movie theatres to get to the Warren because it sets itself apart,” she said. “It complements the community because it’s more than a movie theater, it’s a place for people to recreate. It gives us a sense of place because it’s an iconic beautiful building.”
People go to the Warren. On any given weekend or evening the massive parking lot is nearly full to capacity. It’s reflected in the attendance numbers for certain films that have frequently exceeded those at movie theatres in major cities.
In addition to the positives the Warren contributes robustly to the city of Moore’s financial bottom line. The theatre employs approximately 150 full and part time employees. The price of a ticket and popcorn include sales tax.
“Directly they’re a retail generator,” Ebrey said. “Oklahoma municipalities such as ours are funded almost exclusively by retail sales tax. It’s the life blood for our municipal government.”
It’s readily apparent that Moore and the Warren Theatre enjoy a love-love relationship.