A recent commentary from contributor James Cooper pointed out the dearth of cinematic venues in which to view more artistic films in Oklahoma City.

In doing so, Cooper pointed to the Alamo Drafthouse as an example of what an art house theater can and should be. Beyond the usual film-displaying capabilities of the Harkins in Bricktown or the AMC in Quail Springs Mall, art-house theaters like the Drafthouse feature one amenity the others lack: alcohol sales.

As Oklahoma’s liquor laws modernize thanks to the passage of State Question 792 in November, a path may have been paved for other booze-related legislation. To that end, two state representatives and one state senator have filed a trio of bills regarding alcohol sales at movie theaters.

Defining a ‘motion picture theater’

Two of the bills filed seek to redefine the venue of a motion picture theater itself. Currently, a motion picture theater is defined in Oklahoma statute as:

a place where motion pictures are exhibited and to which the general public is admitted, but does not include a place where meals, as defined by this section, are served, if only persons twenty-one (21) years of age or older are admitted;

Sen. David Holt’s (R-OKC) SB 783 would allow licenses to be issued to theaters and amend the definition to permit the sale of low-point beer with a valid license.

Likewise, HB 2186, by Rep. Cory Williams (D-Stillwater) and Rep. Katie Henke’s (R-Tulsa) HB 1758 would modify the definition by omitting all the language after the first instance of the word “admitted” in the current definition and then deleting language elsewhere that bars the issuance of mixed-beverage, beer and wine licenses to theaters.

Evening out the playing field

Because the Warren Theater in Moore, a multi-million dollar cineplex, sells meals and has an upstairs area reserved for those 21 and up, it falls outside the scope of being merely a movie theater. As a result, it exists as a restaurant and bar, and one need not purchase a ticket to enjoy those offerings.

Obviously, not every entrepreneurial art-house endeavor will have the capability to include full-service dining alongside art-house movie offerings, so that’s where the bills listed here could play a crucial role in creating an even playing field for an art-house startup.