By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
ENID, Okla. —
An innovative way of fundraising is on the books for Esquire Retro Theater.
Money raised will be used to renovate the old downtown theater.
A retro movie night is planned at Convention Hall by supporters of the theater, the weekend of May 3-4. The theater will have one screening each of four classic movies during the weekend.
The movies to be shown will be “Singing in the Rain” with Donald O’Connor at 6:30 p.m. May 3, and the Humphrey Bogart classic “Casablanca” at 9 p.m. May 3. They are the original movies, organizers said, in improved condition.
At 6:30 and 9 p.m. May 4, the movies shown will be “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” with Gene Wilder and Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho.” Both are the original movies as they were released.
Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and veterans and $4 for students.
The movie nights will feature full concessions, plus a wine and beer bar and bistro tables in the rear of the auditorium.
“We want it classy,” McClellan said.
They will hold drawings for Blu-ray boxed sets of each movie. Tickets are available online at Enid Event Center website, enideventcenter.com. Under the “Event Center” tab on the left click “Buy Tickets Now” and follow the links. The movies are a one-time exclusive showing.
The movies are being held in coordination with Main Street Enid’s First Friday activities downtown.
Jared McClellan, one of the sponsors of the retro theater in Enid, said it is an attempt to provide as wide an offering as possible and to get as many people as possible to view the movies.
“We’re hoping to keep people downtown later and to shop and eat, which is what Main Street is all about,” McClellan said.
The movies will be shown on a 45-foot screen with a professional sound system and projection brought in from Oklahoma City. McClellan and Enid native Mark Marshall plan to purchase and renovate the old Esquire Theater on West Randolph. They will show classic movies, hoping to give Enid residents the opportunity to see some of their favorites and introduce younger people to classic movies.
“There is a difference between seeing these movies on TV and seeing them on the big screen,” Marshall said.
When the theater opens, admission prices will be $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and military and $3 for children.
“The best way to support the Esquire theater is to come to a showing,” McClellan said.
The pair plan monthly showings, Marshall said.
Marshall previously worked with director Stephen Spielberg on movies, and also worked on the first Harry Potter movie, before returning to Enid to work on independent films.
“We plan to even have some silent movies, like ‘The General,’ with Charlie Chaplin, and ‘Gold Rush,’ with Buster Keaton. This is for the Enid community, so they can expect classic entertainment,” Marshall said.
He said they like to think they are completing the entertainment picture for downtown. One person told Marshall he would come to Enid to see one of those movies. He would eat in a restaurant, spend the night and shop in Enid, Marshall said.
“That is the idea,” Marshall said.
Turner Classic Movies has been touring the country showing classic films and has been sold out at every venue, Marshall said.
“The younger generation hasn’t seen ‘Jaws’ or ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ on the big screen. It’s such a different experience,” he said.
McClellan said the Facebook response to the Esquire Retro Theater has been good.
“If you have a classic movie you love, send us an email,” McClellan said.
There has been interest from Main Street Oklahoma in designing the exterior of the theater building. If the movies are successful, the pair will have enough funds to give a go ahead to the architects, Corbin and Merz, to design the interior of the theater. They have no timeline for completion of the theater renovation.
They admit the goal of the movies is to build the Esquire Theater business. Along with that, they want to see if Enid is ready for the Esquire to be back full time. They believe there is enough interest.
“That will tell us if people are ready for it and if they will make an investment in the theater building,” McClellan said.
All profits from the May 3-4 movie nights will go to the theater project, acquisition of the building and development of the Esquire Retro Theater, he said. There are no other theaters in Oklahoma showing full-time classic revival fare, McClellan said. Part of the goal is to re-introduce classic films.
“We want to see people bring their kids and grandkids. These are multi-generational movies,” McClellan said. “We hope to get people coming from out of town.”
They plan to show features with a period cartoons, but there will be no commercials. They believe they are adding to the existing entertainment landscape and contribute to the movement downtown, to make downtown more enjoyable, McClellan said.
“I’m having fun seeing these films again. Jared is seeing some of them for the first time,” Marshall said.
Marshall said they are trying to build a culture in Enid that begs for making movies.