In this post-Netflix world, going to the movies doesn’t seem to be as appealing an experience as it once was.
Why leave the house, subject yourself to absurdly overpriced food, and sit through 15 minutes of previews when you could just unwind on the couch with some takeout and a glass of Chardonnay while watching one of thousands of titles on Netflix?
It’s a toss-up, but Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is hoping to tempt potential moviegoers out of the house again.
The cinema chain began in Austin, TX in 1997 in a former parking garage. Founders Tim and Karrie League started with a simple concept: come to watch good movies — foreign films, classics, cult movies, etc. — and order food and drinks from your seat. Essentially, an indoor drive-in with “table” service.
Their idea took off, and the Alamo Drafthouse flourished, growing to several locations around the city. Now, the chain is expanding nationally with locations in eight states, spanning from CA to NY.
The chain strikes a unique balance between standard box office flicks and more niche showings and events to cater to just about every possible taste. So between the newest superhero instalment and late-night runs of “Hiroshima Mon Amour”, the Alamo Drafthouse is bound to have something for everyone.
Another plus is the refreshing absence of previews or pre — movie advertising. A tenet of the Alamo is making sure nothing disturbs the movie experience — this includes unceremoniously kicking out anyone talking or using their cell phone.
Furthermore, the company’s attention to detail and quality is staggering — while many theatres across the nation are trading expensive film projection equipment for digital projectors, the Alamo hires trained projectionists for every location.
And don’t fret, the food itself is rather impressive. This isn’t your typical theatre fare (although bottomless popcorn is available, of course). There’s a full menu that varies slightly depending on location; different regions offer some more local items, like crab cakes at the Virginia cinemas and chorizo migas for brunch in San Antonio.
From beefy burgers smothered with caramelised onions, goat cheese, or special aoilis, to premium pizzas with toppings ranging from smoked bacon to brussel sprouts, the menus inspire a certain amount of respect.
And the drink options are far reaching, with huge amounts of local and well-known draft beers (it is called the Drafthouse, after all), wines, and special film themed cocktails and “adult milkshakes” like the Maker’s Mark Milk Punch Shake.
With such a broad appeal, it’s easy to see why the chain is expanding so quickly, now that an earlier franchising legal snafu has been settled. According to Bloomberg, Alamo Drafthouse hopes to have some 50 theatres nationwide by 2018; there are 22 locations presently.
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