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Paramount Theatre on Congress Avenue
Paramount Theatre on Congress Avenue | © Bex Walton/Flickr
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The Best Independent Movie Theaters in Austin

Picture of Jessica Devenyns
Updated: 21 August 2018
Austin might have a reputation for it’s world-class music scene, but don’t rule out the city’s passion for film.

Although it’s no Los Angeles, Austin is still a well-known creative force in the film community. From Robert Rodriguez’s Troublemaker Studios to SXSW film, there’s a lot of film flowing through this town. The list of movies filmed here runs the gamut with gems like Dazed and Confused, as well as flops like the 2007 feature film Teeth. Nevertheless, finding screenings of independent and local films can be a challenge if you don’t know where to look. Thankfully, you don’t have to go too far to sort out the weird from the wonderful. We’ve lined up the six best movie theaters in the city.

Austin Film Society Cinema

Cinema, Movie Theater
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Robert Rodriguez and Danny Trejo at the Austin Film Society
Robert Rodriguez and Danny Trejo at the Austin Film Society | © Chris Jackson/Flickr
One of the lesser-known projects in town, Austin Film Society (AFS) is the result of Richard Linklater’s creative genius. First opened in 1981, AFS is the heartbeat of Austin’s independent film industry, but it only recently opened its own dedicated art-house cinema, complete with a full bar and cafe. On its two screens, the cinema curates a wide selection of films, including repertory series, new restorations, documentaries, independent films and premieres. Many of the films are also accompanied by introductions by the film directors and other special guests.
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Accessibility & Audience:

Accessible (Wheelchair)

Services & Activities:

Independent

Atmosphere:

Local, Photo Opportunity

Violet Crown Cinema

Cinema, Movie Theater
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An art-house theater devoted to showcasing independent, documentary, international and studio films, Violet Crown Cinema is locally owned and operated. They have four screens inside, making it a charming place to appreciate the art of filmmaking. Unlike most theaters, the Violet Crown is known for premiering many independent and international films in the city, which is perfect for those who like a little something different. For the best possible experience, they offer wireless headsets that carry the movie soundtrack at an adjustable volume according to the needs of the viewer. They even have captioning devices that display subtitles in sync with the movie. This is truly a venue that contributes to the perfect cinematic experience for all viewers.
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Accessibility & Audience:

Accessible (Deaf)

Services & Activities:

Independent

Atmosphere:

Local, Instagrammable, Indoors

Alamo Drafthouse Ritz

Cinema, Theater
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Alamo Draft House © Sean Loyless/Flickr
Alamo Draft House | © Sean Loyless/Flickr
Alamo Drafthouse is local to Austin and quite simply the best theater you’ll ever visit. Head to the Ritz location on 6th Street for themed movie nights, custom pre-show clips, fried pickles, and draft beer. The Alamo Drafthouse may be the most famous indie movie powerhouse franchise in Texas. Founded in Austin, they operate in Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin and several other locations around the state and the country. The original intention was to create a theater by fans, for fans. Indeed, they enforce strict cinema-going etiquette so that movie lovers can have a genuine, uninterrupted movie experience. They have several events, like “Quote-Along” nights and “Master Pancake” events, in which comedians mock an entire movie on the spot, and “Weird Wednesdays,” which show eclectic movies for one dollar at midnight. With so many events and locations, there’s no excuse not to visit!
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Accessibility & Audience:

Accessible (Wheelchair), Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Independent

Atmosphere:

Local, Architectural Landmark

Moviehouse & Eatery

Cinema, Movie Theater
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“Dinner and a show” gets a whole new look at the Moviehouse & Eatery. Start your evening with a craft cocktail or a local brew in the lounge. Then, when you’re ready for the premier, curl up in one of the plush leather recliners and wait for a waiter to appear and take your order. Try movie theater classics like popcorn or opt for a Texas twist with a perfectly seared steak. If you’re able, catch the first showing of the day. You’ll only have to pay $9.50 (£6.80) a ticket.
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Paramount Theater

Cinema, Theater
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paramount theater congress avenue
Paramount Theater | © Bex Walton/Flickr

For nearly 100 years, the Paramount Theater has been the go-to spot on Congress Avenue for a relaxed night with friends. Originally a vaudeville and variety house, the Paramount Theater is now a melting pot of film, comedy, drama, music, and dance performances. This venue is the oldest surviving theater in Austin and has a special place in the hearts of locals. Home to any red carpet film premieres in Austin, as well as being a state landmark, this is a special place to come enjoy a true taste of Texas, and enjoy local and touring acts. The Paramount has seen everything from jazz artists to spoken word poetry, so peruse the listings and choose something exactly to your tastes. Make sure to catch their summertime double feature series to cool off.

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Accessibility & Audience:

Family Friendly

Services & Activities:

Vintage, Independent

Atmosphere:

Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark

Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-in

Cinema, Movie Theater
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Blue Starlite Drive-in | © GoToVan/Flickr
This great drive-in shows both old and new movies, including indie films, art house, childhood favorites, and pop culture hits. You can even purchase a s’more kit and roast it over their fire pit. Keep your eyes on their website for upcoming screenings as they rotate weekly. It is a small establishment and space is limited, so booking reservations ahead of time is essential.
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Accessibility & Audience:

Dog Friendly, Family Friendly, Accessible (Wheelchair)

Services & Activities:

Independent

Atmosphere:

Outdoors