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Original Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in downtown Austin.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is an American cinema chain founded in 1997 in Austin, Texas, United States. It has screens in eight locations across Texas.



The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema was founded by Tim and Karrie League at 409 Colorado St, in an Austin, Texas warehouse-district building that was being used as a parking garage. The company began as a second-run movie theater, and distinguished itself by the food and drink service offered inside the theater, including cold beers. The seating is arranged with rows of cabaret style tables in front of each row of seats, with an aisle between each row to accommodate waiter service. Customers write their orders on slips of paper, which are picked up by black-clad waiters moving quietly between the rows. Soon after opening, the original downtown theater began offering occasional unique programming such as silent movies scored by local bands playing live accompaniment, food-themed films such as Like Water for Chocolate served with a dinner matching the meals shown on screen, and retrospectives of various directors and stars.

In 2001, the Leagues renovated a four-screen art-house theater at 2700 Anderson Lane in North Austin which had recently closed, and opened it as an Alamo Drafthouse which specialized in first-run movies. With this new Alamo Drafthouse Village, the downtown location ceased showing second-run movies and began to concentrate almost exclusively on unusual programming including classics, cult classics, independents, documentaries, special guest appearances, and audience participation shows.

In 2003, the Alamo Drafthouse moved even further north, to 13729 Research Blvd in far northwest Austin. The Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek has seven screens, all dedicated to new movies. Almost simultaneously, the Alamo granted their first franchise, which opened in the West Oaks Mall in Houston, Texas.

Company sold

In July 2004, Tim and Karrie League sold the brand, including the brand name, intellectual property and rights to all future Alamo Drafthouse expansion to CEO Terrell Braly, John Martin and David Kennedy, but retained an irrevocable license for the Austin locations (Village, Lamar, Downtown), which includes their Rolling Roadshow.[1] In May 2003, Travis Doss opened the first Alamo franchise location (Westoaks Mall) in Houston, Texas with six screens. In August 2004, the largest Alamo (Westlakes) opened in San Antonio, Texas with nine screens. Since February 2005, the new company, under CEO and partner John Martin, has purchased the original franchise unit from Doss, opened a theater in Katy, Texas and has built a new-build multi-screen theater in the Rio Grande Valley; though it was scheduled to open in 2008, the building has remained unfinished since March 2009. A second San Antonio theater is underway (Park North), which will have six screens and is scheduled to open in 2009.[2] The first outside of Texas was recently announced to open in Virginia in early 2009.[3]

On October 2009, Alamo Drafthouse announced it planned to open further property expanding to the Odessa-Midland area, Amarillo, Corpus Christi, Lubbock, San Marcos, as well as existing property in the Houston area that will be acquired.



Company locations


  • Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz (Downtown) – Austin (2 screens; opened November 2007); Previous downtown location (single screen; 1997-2007)
  • Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar – Austin (6 screens; opened March 7 2005)
  • Alamo Drafthouse Village – Austin (4 screens; opened July 2001)

Franchisee/licensee locations


  • Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek – Austin (7 screens; opened May 2003)
  • Alamo Drafthouse West Oaks MallHouston (6 screens; opened May 2003)
  • Alamo Drafthouse Mason Park – unincorporated Harris County (7 screens; opened February 2006)
  • Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes – San Antonio (9 screens; opened August 2004)
  • Alamo Drafthouse Rio Grande Valley – Edinburg (6 screens; the building, originally planned for a 2007 opening, has remained unfinished and unopened as of November 2009)
  • Alamo Drafthouse Park North - San Antonio (6 screens; opened November 2009)


  • Alamo Drafthouse Winchester - unincorporated Frederick County (10 screens; opening late 2009)

Worldwide. Opening date for Alamo Drafthouse in Winchester, VA is October 19, 2009.

  • Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow - Multiple locations worldwide
  • Alamo Draft House - Circle C - Austin (7 screens; opening 2009)

In August 2005, Entertainment Weekly named the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema "The #1 movie theater in the country doing it right".[4]


Austin: every year in September, the Alamo South Lamar location throws a week long film festival called Fantastic Fest dedicated to the horror, sci-fi, fantasy, Asian and "cult" film genres; Alamo Lake Creek holds the annual Zombie Film Festival (Dismember the Alamo) and the Off-centered Film Festival; The Ritz and South Lamar locations also participate in the SXSW Film Festival in March.

Other events include:

  • Austin Air Guitar - each competitor has 60 seconds to perform air guitar to a song of one's own choosing
  • Austin Air Sex - same as the above except for sexual acts[5]
  • Big Screen Classics - classic movies shown on a Cinemascope screen
  • Celebrity Guests - special event where a famed film industry person or star speaks
  • Cinema Cocktails - bar service with at-seat waitered service during movies at the Ritz location
  • The Dionysium - monthly arts variety show including debate panels, lectures, forums, and socializing[6][7]
  • Fantastic Fest - annual genre film festival (September 24, 2009-October 1, 2009) at the South Lamar location
  • Filmmaking Frenzy - ongoing filmmaking competition with annual awards
  • Food & Film Events - special meal service for certain movies
  • Foleyvision - films which repalce original audio with live commentary; formerly "Buzz Moran's Kung Fu Masterpiece Theater"
  • Kid's Club - free children's movie screenings last Saturday each month
  • Master Pancake Theater - live movie mockery; a panel of comedians mock a movie as its shown with live comedy voice-overs, real-time commentary, and some pre-selected movie editing; a successor to the former special event "Christmas Show"[8]; content frequently Rated R
  • Music Monday - weekly Monday music-related film showing
  • Open Screen Night - weekly; patrons show their own videos
  • Quote-Alongs - patrons can sing, quote, and perform along with a movie, typically a cult film
  • Rocky Horror Picture Show - weekly live performance tribute to the movie of the same name
  • Rolling Roadshow Tour - somewhat annual 35mm movie screenings of famous movies in famous film-related locations across the United States
  • Sing-Alongs - weekly open mike night
  • Terror Tuesdays - weekly horror movie showing
  • Weird Wednesday - weekly eclectic movie showing for $1 at midnight

Downtown theater

Of the first seven theaters, the downtown theater was unique for being the host of many important film events in Austin, such as the Quentin Tarantino Film Festival and Harry Knowles's annual Butt-numb-a-thon.

In 2006, due to rising rent in downtown Austin, theater owners took steps to hand the theater over to a non-profit group called the "Heroes of the Alamo" foundation, operating the theater as a cultural arts center. However, with the historic Ritz Theater on 6th Street offered as an alternative location, the original Alamo was closed. The final event at the original location consisted of a special triple-feature event the evening of June 27, 2007. The final movie shown was Night Warning, with star Susan Tyrrell attending. At the conclusion of the movie, audience members were allowed to disassemble their seats and take them home as mementos of the theater.

After six months of construction, the Alamo Drafthouse at the Ritz opened on November 2, 2007 with a triple feature of Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People, with a five course mushroom feast; a sneak preview of No Country For Old Men; and a Terror Thursday screening of War of the Gargantuas, introduced by Quentin Tarantino who flew out from Los Angeles for the night to attend the opening.

Rolling roadshow

The original Alamo Drafthouse team hosts 35mm screenings of famous movies in famous places all over the world with their traveling portable projection system with a blow-up screen. Past events include: Fistful of Dollars at Cortijo el Sotillo, Spain, A Christmas Story in Cleveland, OH, The Lost Boys in Santa Cruz, CA, It Came From Outer Space 3D in Roswell, NM, The Goonies in Astoria, OR, Close Encounters of the Third Kind at Devil's Tower, WY, The Warriors in Coney Island, NY, Clerks in Red Bank, NJ, Jaws at Martha's Vineyard, MA, Field of Dreams at the Field of Dreams, IA, The Shining at the Stanley Hotel, CO, Poseidon Adventure on the Queen Mary, CA, Escape from Alcatraz on Alcatraz, CA just to name a few.

Past event details

Burt-a-thon / Smokey & The Bandit Scavenger Hunt

August 14-15, 2007

August 14 2007 at the Starlight Six Drive-In [1] in Atlanta the Rolling Roadshow presented Burt-a-thon,[2] a triple-feature of Burt Reynolds movies. Showing were Smokey & The Bandit [3], White Lightning [4] and Sharky's Machine [5]. All three movies involved Atlanta, Georgia and Texarkana, Arkansas. People who came to the event in Pontiac Trans Am's we allowed VIP parking, and drinks. Event was sponsored by Ain't It Cool News [6], New Line Cinema, [7] and Dewars Scotch Whiskey. [8]

The next day on August 15 2007, six teams met with the Rolling Roadshow [9]crew to go on the Scavenger Hunt. They met at 8 am at the Starlight [10] and were given a list of items to take pictures of related to the film, Smokey & The Bandit. Originally the owners had said they would only allow 20 teams to participate, and closed the registration a few weeks prior to the event. A total of 16 teams signed up at $25 each. However, only 6 teams showed up on the day of the event. This may have been in part to the previous night's films running until nearly 3 am. Not much is known about all of the participants, but there was a team who drove to Atlanta from Baltimore, Maryland, getting in at 6 am, only to have to meet up and leave again at 8 am. One team consisted of three men in costume (including crash helmets, fake mustaches and opera capes) the entire trip. One team was made up of only one person. His partner had dropped out the night before. One team was made up of four women, the self-titled "Team BANDIT". All teams were issued the photo list and their registrations were taken from them and put into a sealed bag. This was an attempt to keep the teams from speeding and getting in trouble with the law. For, if opened, the team would be disqualified.

The teams were to meet up in Texarkana (one of the two named cities in the original film) at the Four State Fairground by 9 pm CST. [11] There, the Roadshow crew would be showing "Smokey" again, for free. The teams arrived as close to 9 pm as possible, after driving over 700 miles from Atlanta. After checking all the photos submitted by the teams, and each team doing one last 'event', a conversation on microphone in 'trucker lingo' in front of the assembled crowd of hundreds for the last 107 points, it was announced that "Team BANDIT" had won the prize. The first-place prize was a 1979 Firebird Trans Am with over 378,000 miles on it. [12]It has since been named "The Alamo", in recognition of the people who gave it to them, as well as they would always, "Remember the Alamo." The second-place team won a Tomtom GPS unit with directions narrated by Burt Reynolds himself. [13] The third place team was the one with only one driver. Though there was not an official prize for 3rd place, he was awarded a lot of Dewar's Scotch Whiskey.

  • Smokey and the Bandit Road Rally (July 27, 2003) - Teams were assembled at the Alamo Drafthouse Lake Creek in the morning. They were instructed to seal their driver's licenses in an envelope and handed several sealed numbered envelopes with their clues. At the sound of the starting gun teams raced to their cars, Le Mans style, and they and opened the first envelope. Each team, by solving a puzzle in the envelope, were directed to a location where they received a number representing the next envelope they needed to open. Along the way participants were also instructed to collect scavenger items representing key themes from the movie. The final destination for the teams was Austin Film Society's studios at the former site of the Robert Mueller Municipal Airport where the Drafthouse collected the scavenger items and scored the teams. Any team who had to open the envelope with their driver's licenses (due to traffic tickets; or porn, alcohol or cigarette purchases) had points deducted. Smokey and the Bandit was projected on the side of an old airport after an opening show from Scott H. Biram.
  • Camp HackenSlash (August 9, 2003) - A day camp for adults featuring crafts (e.g. duct tape wallets, T-shirt embroidery) and games (e.g. dodgeball, sloshball).
  • Zaireeka (July 24, 2005) - a pre-show from local bands Pong (at YouTube) and Austin Theremonic Orchestra (at YouTube) was followed by an exhibit of the Flaming Lips's simultaneous four CD music experiment played alongside four inflatable screens showing videos made by the Drafthouse staff and Wiley Wiggins. (Clip of event at YouTube.)


  2. ^ Bailey, W. Scott; Silva, Tricia Lynn (2007-04-27). "'No-man's land' reels in a new era of entertainment". San Antonio Business Journal. Retrieved 2007-12-02.  
  3. ^ Staff Reports (2008-04-11). "Alamo Drafthouse goes east". Austin American Statesman. Retrieved 2008-04-11.  
  4. ^ Cruz, Gilbert (2005-08-05). "10 Theaters doing it right". Entertainment Weekly.,,1090060,00.html. Retrieved 2007-03-29.  
  5. ^ Smith, Drew (June 14, 2007). "Don't knock it 'til you've mimed it". Austin, Texas. Retrieved July 17, 2009.  
  6. ^ Brenner, Wayne Alan (August 27, 2004). "That Thinking Feeling: L.B. Deyo and Buzz Moran's Dionysium puts the fun back in cogitation". Austin, Texas.  
  7. ^ Ash, Elliott Thomas (Thursday, June 9, 2005). "Group holds first debate: Dionysium promotes intellectual discussion in social atmosphere". Austin, Texas: The Daily Texan. Retrieved July 17, 2009.  
  8. ^ Williams, Danna (November 25, 2008). "Master Pancake Theater: The Alamo's professional cut-ups get set to heckle the halls". Austin, Texas: The Onion.,1042/. Retrieved July 17, 2009.  

External links


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