Alamo Drafthouse, the quirky Texas-based movie theater chain, has appointed Michael Kustermann as chief experience officer.
In his new role, Kustermann will lead Alamo Drafthouse’s experience team, which includes marketing, digital and guest experience.
“We’re so excited to bring Michael on board to our growing team,” said Alamo Drafthouse CEO Shelli Taylor. “As the chief experience officer his mission is to amplify Alamo’s brand voice by designing and elevating the overall experience online and offline to further our goal of making going to the movies an extraordinary experience for our guests.”
Kustermann says it’s “a dream” to work for Alamo Drafthouse.
“I’m excited to work with one of the most engaged and mission driven teams, who hold the great responsibility of creating the best damn cinema that has ever or will ever exist,” says Kustermann said. “It’s a dream to work for Alamo Drafthouse Cinema that is best in class with an unrivaled moviegoing experience.”
Kustermann’s hire comes as Alamo Drafthouse, and rival theater chains, attempt to regain footing in a movie market that remains impaired by COVID-19. After emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Alamo Drafthouse has started to expand its presence by recently opening a new location in Manhattan and scheduling others to set up shop in Staten Island and St. Louis in 2022.
This week, Drafthouse is opening its first Washington D.C. location. Reflecting its whereabouts in the nation’s capital, the space has been decorated in the theme of “Washington D.C. on the big screen.” The building will feature a “Hall of Presidents” in the lobby, celebrating 11 of the best on-screen leaders of the free world including Kevin Kline’s President Kovic (“Dave”), Morgan Freeman’s President Trumbull (“Deep Impact”) and Harrison Ford’s President Marshall (“Air Force One”). A life-size statue of Bill Pullman as President Thomas J. Whitmore from the 1996 sci-fi film “Independence Day” will be the centerpiece, with a quote from his character’s moving speech engraved and mounted on the wall. The patriotic motif continues past the lobby to the Big Show, where guests will be greeted by a giant “Aliens attack D.C.” entrance. There’s also a stand-alone bar, the Highbinder, which takes on the look and feel of a political spy thriller, complete with a special drink menu of spy-themed cocktails.
Creating an experience that becomes more than simply watching a movie on the big screen has long been the crux of Alamo Drafthouse’s business model. However, it’s become even more important during the pandemic as streaming services have made it easier than ever to stay home to watch a new movie. Kustermann’s new job will include making sure potential ticket buyers would rather spend money on plush reclining chairs, specialty cocktails and themed snacks over the comfort and convenience of their couch.
Prior to joining Alamo Drafthouse, Kustermann worked on Nespresso’s marketing, sales and retail strategy in North America before getting hired by the Starbucks global brand and innovation team. He then moved to Bose, where he served as chief digital experience officer and later spent three years as chief marketing and digital officer for Century 21 stores. Most recently, he held the post of president of Caveman Foods, a paleo-based health and wellness company, where he oversaw the brand’s commercial and digital acceleration.