Photograph by Brandon Puffer

Photograph by Brandon Puffer

The Tower Theatre opened in 1937 and is one of Oklahoma City’s last original movie houses with an intact auditorium and neon marquee. After many years of movie premieres and historic runs of classic films, the grand dame of Uptown was reduced to showing adult movies before closing in 1989. She reopened briefly in the 1990’s as a live music venue, and was shuttered again in 2000.

The building was purchased in 2005 by Marty and Mike Dillon who began renovations. In 2014, Oklahoma City development group Pivot Project, comprised of David Wanzer, Ben Sellers, and Jonathon Dodson, stepped in to complete the project. 



The Early Days

The Tower was initially owned by the Standard Theaters Corporation, the same group that owned the Criterion, Midwest, Liberty, Ritz, Victoria, Warner and Plaza theaters in Oklahoma City. In 1963, Tower was acquired by Farris Shanbour, a 1942 Criterion doorman and upstairs usher, and his partner Charles A. Shadid. After many years of ups and downs, the Shanbour family transferred the title to Uptown Development Group, LLC on November 3, 2005.


After 14 years of slow-going renovations and setbacks, Tower was sold to David Wanzer, Ben Sellers, and Jonathon Dodson. Pivot Project brought Tower Theatre back to life, renovating the main room with standing floor terraces and restoring the seated balcony to bring live music and movies to Oklahoma City. 


After being damaged multiple times by equipment trucks, and after decades of housing thousands of pigeons, the neon on the historic marquee was in need of major repairs. In 2015, halfway through the building's renovation, the marquee was taken apart and refurbished inside and out. Look for upcoming concert dates and movie times on our iconic marquee while cruising down NW 23rd Street in Oklahoma City.