Carrie Rengers

Warren Theatre opens in Tulsa; chain won’t show “The Interview” on Christmas, but not by choice

Bill Warren’s newest theater opened in Broken Arrow on Tuesday, and he faced an immediate problem – but it was a happy one.

He had to quickly add more people to the box office.

“We’ve only been open an hour, and we’ve sold 4,000 gift certificates,” Warren said. “People wanted, I guess, stocking stuffers or something.”

He says he’s on track to sell $100,000 worth by the end of the day.

Online, the chain also sold 1,500 tickets for shows before the theater even opened.

So does this have Warren already thinking about the next theater he’ll build?

“It just depends on the deal and what makes sense.”

He says it’s not about making more money.

“The key thing is that it’s a fun deal,” Warren says. “At my age, I’m more interested in that.”

Warren says 2015 likely holds another theater project for him.

“Oh, probably. … But I haven’t even thought about that yet.”

As some movie theaters across the country are now making plans for Christmas Day showings of “The Interview,” a satire about North Korea, Warren says he can’t. He says he already found other movies to replace the show after Sony Pictures Entertainment canceled the release following threats.

“Now, we’re contractually obligated,” Warren says of showing the other pictures.

If it had been up to him, he says, he would have shown the movie from the start.

“I would have shown the movie because I never thought that there was any credible threat.”

When he first heard of threats against theaters that showed the film, Warren says, “We were all kind of just sitting here laughing about it.”

That’s even though he’s especially safety conscious.

“If I thought there was any danger, I wouldn’t show it. To me, that’s not even the issue.”

Warren says the three biggest theater chains one by one canceled their showings and “kind of overreacted, with all due respect to them. I think that kind of started a panic thing.”

“To me, it’s like someone starts a stampede, and everyone else joins in,” he says.

“To me, it was silly.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @CarrieRengers.

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