Midnight movies are a secret thing. A cult film experience aimed at a certain breed of filmgoer. And once upon a time the Admiral Twin Drive-In catered to a more sensationalist audience; the type that came not just to see a crazy movie but to maybe engage in a little alcohol consumption and backseat sin. For many, that was the draw of going to see a movie in the sovereignty of their car and one of the many reasons why the pyre that the Admiral Twin became on Sept. 3rd, 2010, was a blow not just to a tide pool of film culture, but Tulsa's Americana identity. As one of the last of a dying breed of theater, the death of the Admiral Twin was heard further and wider than many Tulsans might know.
Of course, the staff at the Circle Cinema quickly had a plan to honor the Admiral Twin's less family-oriented roots with the next two entries of their ongoing series of midnight movies, donating the proceeds to help resurrect a Tulsa tradition for all.
Word of the loss got around. Only problem: the Circle's midnight movie slate was booked for the next four months. Often, the acquisition process for finding rare prints from collectors takes advanced planning, which is why almost five months after the burning of the Twin they now have the opportunity to launch an event such as this. The collector who owns the print of Chained Heat, the first film to be featured in the two film series, and who is based in New York, is loaning it out for free to help the nationally famous Tulsa landmark net that much more of the proceeds; hastening its rise from the ashes.
Blake Smith, the Admiral's co-owner welcomes the help.
"Clark (Weins, the Circle's owner) had approached me in ... October and he said 'I know it's a ways off but we'd love to do something for you ... if you think it would help,'" Smith recalled. "I said, 'You bet.'"
While the state of donations has enabled preliminary rebuild plans to move forward, they are still far from the end zone.
"If we don't get something in place relatively quickly, the 2011 season might be in jeopardy," Smith said.
The Circle's programmers realize that a midnight movie format isn't the surest means of bringing in the big bucks -- and also that the lineup isn't necessarily catering to the widest of audiences -- but they'd like to see Tulsans think of ticket sales as a donation to the Admiral Twin's reconstruction even for those who might be blissfully sleeping at the midnight hour. Or for those who might not be into women-in-prison exploitation flicks or seeing Sylvester Stallone mow down little old ladies in a deathmobile for fun and points in next month's Death Race 2000. Tough you should be. Seriously. But, regardless of whether you buy a ticket for the cause or because you love classic midnight trash, every bit helps, and eventually everyone will win.
The Midnight Movies to Save the Circle series begins this weekend with Chained Heat and continues on the weekend of Feb. 25th with Death Race 2000. Tickets are $8 through the Circle Cinema box office and online at circlecinema.com.
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