Turner Theatre hosts grand opening featuring alum’s Oscar-nominated work

Elon University and the School of Communications officially opened the new 220-seat theater on Dec. 8, with a cinematic celebration recognizing the work of Laith Majali ’05.

A sense of both joy and accomplishment surrounded the Dec. 8 grand opening of Turner Theatre, the new 220-seat, high-definition movie theater in Dwight C. Schar Hall. For many communications faculty and staff members, including Communications Dean Paul Parsons, the theater’s arrival is the culmination of a long-awaited desire.

Assistant Professor William Moner talks with students during the grand opening of Turner Theater on Dec. 8. Also pictured (far left) is Communications Dean Paul Parsons. Photos by Kim Walker
“We have been dreaming and working toward this movie theater for years,” said Parsons, addressing audience members settling in after a red-carpet entrance. “And I’m pleased you are here for the inaugural showing.”

During his opening remarks at the afternoon premiere for invited guests and members of the School of Communications community, Parsons expressed immense pride that the first film to officially grace Turner Theatre’s screen would be “Theeb,” an Oscar-nominated work co-produced by 2005 Elon graduate Laith Majali.

“We wanted the first movie to be the product of a School of Communications alum,” the dean said. He then invited Majali forward and presented the filmmaker with the school’s Outstanding Alumni Award, recognizing his many professional accomplishments. Following remarks from Majali, the special afternoon screening commenced.

For Bryan Baker, manager of Turner Theatre and the school’s director of sound and video projects, the great benefit of the new facility is the opportunity to screen the films of both Elon graduates and students.

<p>Dean Parsons (right) congratulates Laith Majali &rsquo;05 following the presentation of the Outstanding Alumni Award.</p>
​“As far back as I can remember, since coming to work at the School of Communications, we’ve always had a dream to have a theater where we could showcase our students and alumni’s work,” he said. “Turner meets and exceeds those goals, and we’re really looking forward to the many ways we can utilize this space in the future.”

Funded by a gift from Elon parents Jim and Toni Turner and their sons, Parker Turner ’06 and Garrett Turner ’08, the theater is an attractive venue with an HD projection system, 25-foot-wide screen, stadium-style seating and a premier sound system. The projector and surround sound system are on par with anything you’d find in a commercial theater, Baker added.

“We really see this as a place where students and the campus community can enjoy student films, box office hits, as well as other films that wouldn’t normally have a home in Burlington or Elon,” Baker said. “We plan to show films that are closing tied to what we are trying to do to academically.”

The Turner Theatre venue is also ideal for events like the annual Cinelon Film Festival, he noted. And, in the future, other cinematic festivals might be hosted on campus.

Not long before Turner’s grand opening, Zach Bocian ’17 put into perspective the enthusiasm campus filmmakers have the new theater’s arrival. 

<p>A red carpet, velvet ropes and a photographer welcomed attendees to Snow Family Grand Atrium and the grand opening of Turner Theatre.</p>
​“Turner Theatre is going to further define Elon’s film and television program in comparison to other reputable programs around the country,” the cinema and television arts major said. “Along with the entire Schar Hall expansion, I know cinema and television arts students couldn’t be more excited to have their own theater, to not only view their idols’ work, but even exhibit their own.”

Following the matinee showing of “Theeb,” an inaugural public opening of Turner Theatre was also held. Majali hosted brief Q&A sessions following both Dec. 8 screenings.

On Friday, Dec. 9, the School of Communications again opens the theater, partnering with Elon’s Student Union Board to host a double showing of “Sully,” a true story starring Tom Hanks as Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. The shows will be at 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

The school and SUB will begin regular programming in Turner Theatre during the spring semester. All faculty, staff and students have free admission to Turner Theatre with a Phoenix Card, along with family members or a friend.