“Cinema is alive and well tonight!” Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League declared at the theatrical venue’s ribbon-cutting ceremony on Thursday night, where a gathering of 160 employees cheered and sliced into a strip of 35mm film in keeping with the company’s tradition.
Despite dire predictions heralding the end of the theater-going experience, League was upbeat and confident as he celebrated the launch of the Texas-based theater chain’s new location in downtown Los Angeles.
Though the rise of streaming services is widely perceived as a major threat to the survival of movie theaters, League sees such concerns as overblown. “I’m not a believer that any sort of sky is falling,” League told Variety. “Interestingly enough, I had a meeting with Netflix today. I look at them as a partner, not a problem. It’s my job and my responsibility and really it’s the industry’s responsibility to ensure that going to the theater is special and meaningful.”
“People have a lot of options at home, but I’m a firm believer that every once in awhile you leave the home for entertainment,” he continued. “You go to dinner, you go to comedy, you go to see a film. I want to make the idea of seeing a film in the cinema so special that it’s something you are going to keep going back for again and again.”
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With the opening of the chain’s 40th location, League is aiming to lure Angelenos off their couches and into the plush reclining chairs of the high-end venue, which features 12 theaters and a video rental store boasting over 40,000 titles. He’s also in the process of beta-testing a new subscription program for the Alamo with the aim of making moviegoing more affordable for families as well as widening the tastes of his clientele.
“What we want to do is make sure that it’s a value for the customer, for our guests and it doesn’t put us into bankruptcy. But the subscription program is great so far and we are going to be rolling it out nationwide later this year,” League explained. “What I love most about it is that it does foster movie-lovers to explore. I’m passionate about expanding the Alamo to share the movies that I love with as many people as I can. What I love are documentaries, foreign language films, independent films as well as ‘Harry Potter’ and ‘Star Wars.’ I like it all, but particularly I want to make sure that independent movies are alive, healthy and well. That’s our drive here at the Alamo LA.”
League is also betting that the theater’s location in the open-air shopping complex the Bloc, which sits on the intersection of several metro lines, will be a draw for audiences across the L.A. sprawl. “You can reach out to all sorts of neighborhoods that converge right here,” he said. “You can come from South L.A., you can come from Hollywood, you can come from the beach and get here in a reasonable amount of time. That’s an amazing thing and I hope people use the train to come and visit us.”