Bill Warren’s almost decade-old theater in Moore, Okla., is one of the top 10-grossing theaters in the country, but he says there’s still much more business to be had in the Oklahoma City area.
He’s now finalizing a $25 million deal for a 100,000-square-foot, 14-auditorium theater in Midwest City, which is next to Tinker Air Force Base.
“A developer friend of mine is doing a center there and wanted to have a theater,” Warren says. “Midwest City wanted to have a luxury theater … and that’s what we’re known for obviously in this part of the country.”
He says he’ll incorporate some of the new features from his latest theater, Warren 21 in Wichita. That includes heated and reclining seats and food and alcohol sales. He says he’ll find new features to add as well.
“The fun is if you can top yourself from the last time,” Warren says. “I could save a lot of money if I just kept building the same theater all the time, but there’s no fun in that.”
He says Midwest City is offering a “nice incentive,” but Warren says he can’t share details yet because the deal isn’t done.
“The city really is excited about a Warren Theatre coming there,” he says. “It’s going to be a win-win deal for everybody. We will generate a lot of business for that city.”
Warren expects the incentives to be approved in the next couple of weeks. Construction will take 18 months.
The Moore theater is about a 30-minute drive away.
“Oklahoma City is the second-largest land mass area in the United States,” Warren says. “A lot of people don’t realize how big that city is in terms of total volume of land.”
He says numbers that the movie industry releases show how successful his Moore theater is against others nationally.
“So we know how we rank,” Warren says. “Constantly, we have movies that play there that are the No. 1-gross in the nation.”
He says that’s even though he charges less in Moore than a lot of East and West Coast theaters do.
There’s an IMAX theater at his Moore theater, but there won’t be one in Midwest City.
So how long does it take to recoup a $25 million investment?
“My grandkids will enjoy a paid off – no,” Warren says, laughing.
“It’s a big investment, and you’re talking years to pay it back, but that’s OK. I’ve got time.”