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The Circle Cinema is a movie theatre located at 10 South Lewis in Tulsa’s historic Kendall-Whittier neighborhood. It opened in 1928 and was a true neighborhood movie house with kids and families lined up to see the latest films, serials and cartoons. The Circle Cinema is the single remaining historic movie theatre in Tulsa. Its sister theatres, the Orpheum, the Delman, and the Will Rogers have all been demolished or, as in the case of the Brook, converted for another purpose.
In 2003, Circle Cinema Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, purchased the theatre, which had been vacant for a decade, and an adjacent building with plans to restore the Circle to prominence as a movie theatre and cultural center, with a focus on film programming that is multi-purpose and mission-based—to educate, to enlighten, and to entertain. Phase I of the project which was completed in 2004 created the Circle 2, which houses a theatre with 100 seats, a lobby, an art gallery wall, a meeting/event area, and a screening room which can seat up to 50. The Foundation is now proceeding with Phase II of the project which will construct two additional theatres in what was the original building with a total of 388 new seats as well as a new main lobby area which will adjoin the current lobby. The goal is to restore the front façade of the building to its vintage look of 1952. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
When Phase II is completed, the Circle Cinema will feature four screens, approximately 540 seats, state of the art projection, Dolby Digital sound, and reserved seat ticketing. The original pipe organ that was at the Circle has been restored and will be installed in the larger of the two new theatres. An added facet of the new theatres is that each will be equipped for use as enhanced classrooms and presentation auditoriums with multimedia applications. Each will include a lectern touch panel control with laptop connectivity/ projection at 32 seats. This feature will expand the facility’s use for instructional programs, seminars, and business meetings.
The mission of the Circle Cinema Foundation is to use film to foster understanding and appreciation of the diversity of the human experience, and create community among the viewers in the restored historic Circle Cinema. There are many ways film can be used to teach about the life experiences of others, to cause people to think and take action, and to make history come alive. Community support is invited to complete the restoration of a valuable part of Tulsa history and to enhance the Circle Cinema Foundation’s efforts to promote community consciousness through film.