Circle Cinema

Circle 3

There are two things I dearly love about indie businesses: They have character, and they foster a sense of community.

Few places do this better than Tulsa’s Circle Cinema, a nonprofit movie theater that is one part historic preservation project, one part co-op, and one part art-house theater. Throw in a beautiful animated neon marquee and a hip neighborhood that’s on a major upswing (the Circle is located at 12 S. Lewis Ave., just down the block from Swinney’s Hardware, on an old alignment of Route 66 in the historic Kendall-Whittier neighborhood), and you’ve got a primo example of what makes Tulsa the cultural capital of Oklahoma.

Now in its 79th year, the Circle is everything an independent theater ought to be: Clean, comfortable, historically conscious (classic movie posters decorate the lobby, and an old projector is displayed in the front window), and dedicated to presenting the kind of artsy, edgy films that typically don’t sell enough tickets to interest the corporate-owned multiplexes.

The Circle has plenty of parking in the back, across the street, and down the block — its Web site claims more than 400 free parking spaces are available in the immediate vicinity — and a bike rack next to the front door, under a sign that says something like, “The Circle Cinema is bicycle-friendly.”

Adult admission is $7.75 for shows after 6 p.m. and $6 for earlier shows; prices are lower for students, seniors, kids, and Circle Cinema members.

Donations, grants, and membership fees help keep the Circle alive; according to the Web site, individual memberships range in price from $75 to $5,000 and include discounts on admission and snacks, opportunities to buy festival passes before the general public, and various other perks. The Circle also makes use of volunteers to keep it running.

My only complaint with the Circle is that the seats are a little bit narrow; two average-sized adults in average-weight winter jackets can’t sit in adjoining seats without crowding each other a little too much for comfort. We tossed our jackets into an empty seat next to us to make a little elbow room, but I could see the seat width becoming an issue in a packed house.

Value: B+
Service: A
Surroundings: B+
Product: A
Overall: A-

~ by redforkhippie on February 9, 2007.

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