The movie-theater chain Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has filed for bankruptcy and is being sold

Alamo Drafthouse Yonkers Kathy Tran final

The specialty theater chain Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate the movie-theater industry in the US.

The company said the filing is part of a sale of “substantially all its assets” to its lender group that includes the private equity firm Altamont Capital Partners, affiliates of the investment management firm Fortress Investment Group, the company’s founder and executive chairman Tim League, and other original investors.

The Texas-based company has more than 40 corporate-owned and franchise locations throughout the US, but will close some struggling locations as it reevaluates lease agreements. 

The company said that the filing and sale will give it the capital it needs to come out of the pandemic intact. The open locations will continue operations. Alamo Drafthouse has requested the Bankruptcy Court approve its 75-day bankruptcy process and $US20 ($26) million debtor-in-possession credit facility with its lender group.

Alamo Drafthouse specializes in in-theater dining. Employees take people’s food and drink orders at their seats and serve them before or during the movie. It also has strict rules that moviegoers don’t talk during the movie, stay off their cell phones, and not arrive late to a showing.

This has helped the company build a loyal following, but the US theatrical industry has been upended by the pandemic.

Theaters throughout the US were closed for five months from last March to August, during which time Alamo furloughed all of its employees. After reopening, some chains like Regal and Cineworld soon closed all locations again in the US and UK.

Movie studios have postponed tentpole releases like the James Bond movie “No Time to Die” and Marvel’s “Black Widow” since last year, while releasing others to alternatives like streaming or digital-rental platforms. As such, the 2020 North American box office plummeted 80.3% from its 2019 total, according to Comscore.

But Alamo is optimistic about the theatrical industry returning to a sense of normalcy later this year.

“Because of the increase in vaccination availability, a very exciting slate of new releases, and pent-up audience demand, we’re extremely confident that by the end of 2021, the cinema industry – and our theaters specifically – will be thriving,” League said in a statement.