In 1997, Alamo Drafthouse was founded in Austin, Texas, by local couple Tim and Karrie League. The first location began in a dull parking garage, which the Leagues transformed into a theater. The theater started out simple, featuring one screen that showed movies at a discounted rate on their second run in theaters. Thanks to the work of such dedicated cinephiles, though, the cinema soon became a hub for movie lovers, evolving within its first year to begin hosting film premieres and cater to visiting filmmakers. The theater even drew in Quentin Tarantino, who soon began hosting five-day marathon screenings of titles from his own private film collection. Over time, the theater grew to open a chain of Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas around the country, featuring 22 locations including Winchester and Ashburn, Virginia; San Francisco, California; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Kansas City, Missouri; Littleton, Colorado; La Vista, Nebraska; Yonkers, New York; and 14 Texas locations.
What makes this theater so special? A number of things come together to create an unbeatable movie-going experience. First of all is the theater’s strict adherence to proper cinema etiquette – the cinema has a zero tolerance policy for movie disruptions. There is absolutely no talking or cell phone use of any kind allowed during screenings, and the staff will not hesitate to kick people out for breaking the rules.
Another notable feature of the cinema is its elimination of ads and trailers at the beginning of the movie. According to the owners, ‘We also hate it when other movie theaters make you watch advertisements after you’ve already paid to see the movie, so we’re vigilant about never letting ads hit our screens – we’ve even turned down PSAs for great causes because we don’t want ANYTHING to disrupt your experience of the show.’ Alternatively, the theater screens custom pre-shows before each film, usually created with content related to the film being featured.
What excites most moviegoers, beyond a high quality experience, is Alamo Drafthouse’s liquor license. In addition to a variety of food options, visitors can choose from a selection of cold beers and fine wines on the theater’s menu and enjoy them while they watch their film. The theater aims to stock local brews whenever possible, and there is even a full bar with movie-themed cocktails at some locations.
Beyond all that, the theater strives to stay updated in the most innovative technologies for movie screening, ensuring the most exceptional quality of picture and sound possible. There are also a series of fun Quote Along events hosted for lovers of classic movies, like the monthly Girlie Nights, screening the likes of Dirty Dancing and Clueless. All of these factors have come together to win Alamo Drafthouse Cinema acclaim around the nation, named Entertainment Weekly’s ‘#1 theater in America’ and ‘the coolest movie theater in the world’ by Wired.com.