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February 24th, 2012 - Kelley Chambers

Warren debuts $10 million IMAX

Bill Warren never ceases to amaze moviegoers. As owner of Wichita, Kan.-based Warren Theatres, he brought a theater to Moore in 2008 with a décor that paid tribute to grand movie houses of the past. A feature new to this market was balcony seating in two auditoriums with food and drink service.

Warren7point1sound-Bill-Warren25mhBill Warren, owner of Warren Theaters explains the new Dolby 7.1 surround sound now available at the Warren theater in Moore, today, during a press announcement, 6-17-10. Photo/Mark Hancock
In November 2011, he opened two intimate “directors suites” that each offer seating for about 40, large, heated, reclining chairs, and food and drink service. The largest addition to the theater since it was built debuted Feb. 24 when Warren introduced a $10 million IMAX theater. The screen is seven stories high and the auditorium seats 601.

“It is one of the biggest movie scenes on planet earth,” Warren said. “That is no hype; it’s the largest IMAX in terms of seats and screen size I know of in the country.”

The Warren IMAX in Wichita opened last year. It is just slightly smaller than the one in Moore at 1000 Telephone Road. In its first year, the theater showed 20 IMAX movies. Warren said 10 of those were the top grossing in the country, beating even New York and Los Angeles. He expects the Oklahoma IMAX to meet or exceed its Wichita counterpart.

“I anticipate this theater in Oklahoma will be the No. 1 IMAX theater in the country, period,” he said.

Warren said he looked at retrofitting a theater rather than building from the ground up, as was done at the AMC Quail Springs Mall 24. To fit a screen the size he wanted it became clear that he would need a new building.

“If you have a certain size room, you can only put so big of a screen in that room,” he said. “I wanted to build something bigger.”

On opening day, Warren said, the IMAX was nearly sold out for the first shows. To introduce the public to the theater, he is showing "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" in 3D, and the "Dark Knight," both at half the $13 to $16 ticket price for the first week.

With the IMAX done on the north end of the building, Warren still has room to grow on the south. He did not discuss exact plans, but said he’s not done yet.

“We’ll probably be adding on to the other end of the theater in the next year or two,” he said. “I’ve got a couple of new concepts I’m working on.”

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