NORMAN — Bill Warren of Warren Theatre said after reading a story in Wednesday’s Transcript, he wanted to set the record straight regarding the location of the $30 million movie theater in Moore.
“The thing about the current mayor rejecting Warren Theatre is a bald-faced lie,” Warren said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “I read your article. I don’t know either candidate, but this is a lie.”
Warren said he wants to put the rumors to rest once and for all.
“We never approached the city government in Norman for one simple reason, and that’s because there is already an existing movie theater there,” he said. “I’m not trying to inject myself into local politics, but it was a lie.”
The Warren Theatre outgrosses any theater in a 10-state area, he said. And the IMAX at Moore is the No. 1 IMAX in America and Canada.
“It outgrosses New York,” Warren said. “When it opened, the first week it opened, it had the highest gross of any IMAX in the world.”
The Moore City Council approved $2 million in sales tax rebates for the IMAX theater and a restaurant as an incentive.
“The Moore people, Deidre Ebry, the mayor, the city council — it’s more than just incentives,” Warren said. “They have been fantastic, and I use that in capital letters.”
Warren said his relationship with Moore city leaders has evolved from business into a friendship.
“It has been a wonderful partnership that has evolved,” he said. “It’s not just the money. It’s the ability to work with city government and know that it’s to both our advantages,” he said.
Warren said he suspects he knows where the rumor about Norman got started.
“There is a female mayor that rejected Warren Theatres,” he said. “I don’t remember her name, but we approached the mayor of Edmond, had a meeting with her and she was polite, but she basically said, ‘We don’t want a big movie theater.’ That’s how we ended up in Moore.”
Warren said his team looks at cities and how well the government functions. Research of a city in Kansas under consideration revealed that the city was dysfunctional and not business friendly.
“We didn’t move to the stage of incentives,” he said. “Why would you want to marry into a dysfunctional family? And I don’t know anything about Norman — that’s not a comment on Norman. I’ve heard only good things about Norman.
“A lot of cities ought to take a look at Moore,” Warren said. “It’s an example of good government working like it should.”