McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

State House

November 20, 2013

Warren Theatre larger than life survivor of storm



“Anytime you see something like that, it’s pretty depressing, but it’s impressive to see the amount of progress that’s been made in this short of time,” Ansai said. “It speaks to the character of this community.”

Following the tornado, owner Bill Warren said he had intentionally built the theater with strong, reinforced walls that kept staff and patrons safe from the storm. There was considerable exterior damage, however.

“I estimated $500,000 and it turned into millions,” Warren said. “And that’s just the exterior. The exterior was over $3 million because we had to replace the roof.”

Signs also were damaged or destroyed.

“The key thing was no one got hurt in our theater in our property,” Warren said. “And there was no interior damage.”

The theater was closed eight days, mostly because roads were closed and access limited during that time period. Warren said local contractors pulled together to help them open as soon as possible. The theater hosted several special showings for tornado victims in the weeks following the tornado.

“I think they’re doing a great job on the recovery,” Warren said. “There are a lot of houses going up and people are starting to move back in. Nothing can replace the loss of life, however. We had one employee that lost his little sister.”

The theater was, and remains, a hit with movie-goers.

“Our business was down for awhile, but, as near as we can tell, we are back up and performing as well as we did in the past,” he said. “That Michael Douglas comedy “Last Vegas,” we — the Moore Warren Theatre — were No. 1 in the entire United States of America.”

The location off of Interstate 35 has been prime.

“That’s one of the top grossing theaters in the nation,” Warren said. “Obviously, the immediate neighborhood was devastated, but that theater pulls so many people from other cities. That theater is a regional draw.”

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