TULSA – After a decade of grassroots community support, construction delays and innovative programming, the Circle Cinema is set to open its doors on a sparkling new, historically significant, four-screen movie house at 10 S. Lewis Ave. on July 15.
The Circle, a vintage 1928 neighborhood theater, has operated on a piecemeal basis since it was re-opened in 2004 as a non-profit foundation dedicated to fostering diversity, tolerance and community involvement through film.
Co-founded by Tulsa business leaders Clark Wiens and George Kravis, the Circle’s long-running renovation and construction has been supported by grants, gifts and donations from foundations, businesses and individuals. In its early years, the program of art, independent and foreign films had its home in a spacious brick lobby and 105-seat black box theater as sporadic construction took place in the main auditorium space next door.
With the grand opening festivities this weekend, which happens to coincide with the theater’s 85th birthday, the Circle will officially unveil two new, back-to-back auditoriums with a combined seating capacity of nearly 400. The Cinema complex will include the original black box theater, a spacious exhibition space in the old lobby, the two new auditoriums featuring state-of-the-art 35mm and digital projection, an airy new lobby with ticket booth and concession stand and the restored entrance and neon marquee.
Future plans call for the installation of the original two-manual, four-rank Robert Morton pipe organ that resided in the Circle during its silent-movie days.
The schedule of events for the opening weekend celebration is:
Thursday – 5:30-8 p.m., Tulsa Girls Art School exhibition opening: “Art Across Borders.”
Friday – 6-8 p.m., reception for seat sponsors; 8-10 p.m., members-only reception; regular programming with “Hannah Arendt” and a Skype interview.
Saturday – 9-11 a.m., Spanish cartoons introduced by Miss Latina Oklahoma, Kita Anaya.
9-11 a.m., “Flash Gordon” serials and cartoons.
Circle Cinema Classics featuring highest attended films of the last eight years (noon, “Ladies in Lavender” and 7 p.m., “The Intouchables”).
Made In Oklahoma Film Festival – 2:10 p.m., “Rainbow Around the Sun” (Q&A with filmmakers); 4:30 p.m., “Left of Center” (Q&A with filmmakers); 8:30 p.m., “Unknown State” (Q&A with filmmakers).
Sunday – Circle Cinema Classics - 11:30 a.m., “Sweet Land” and 4:50 p.m., “What The Bleep.”
Made In Oklahoma Film Festival - 12:30 p.m., “Bill’s Thud” (Q&A with filmmakers); 7:00 p.m., “Home, James” (Q&A with filmmakers).
Special screening of Henry Koster’s classic comedy “Harvey,” starring James Stewart at 2 p.m., followed by a Q&A with Tulsa actress Peggy Dow Helmerich.
Monday, July 15 – Lewis Avenue will be closed from 6-10 p.m. for a street party featuring music, food, a ribbon-cutting ceremony with Mayor Dewey Bartlett, a Walk of Fame dedication with Oklahoma filmmaker Sterlin Harjo, screenings of student films and a Circle Cinema highlight reel and a special program honoring Tulsan Gailard Sartain’s classic late-night local program of the early ’70s, “Dr. Mazeppa Pompazoidi’s Uncanny Film Festival and Camp Meeting,” featuring guest Sherman Oaks (Jim Millaway) hosting clips and memories.
More information about the Circle Cinema celebration and programming is available online at circlecinema.com.
- Dennis King