Starting on Oct. 18, customers will be able to visit the Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan to get their fix of popcorn, buffalo cauliflower and beer while watching the latest blockbuster unfold on the big screen. The soft launch period will run through Oct. 21, a time during which guests will receive special discounts on select food and non-alcoholic beverages while staff members train and find their bearings. Located in the Financial District at 28 Liberty Street, the 14-screen multiplex and 598-seat theater is the company’s third New York-based operation following Yonkers and Brooklyn.
“The last 18 months have been a rollercoaster for our industry, but through it all we’ve believed in the future of this industry,” says Alamo Drafthouse CEO Shelli Taylor. “Opening our Lower Manhattan theater is an expression of our belief that audiences will always seek elevated, communal moviegoing experiences like ours.”
It has been an especially turbulent period for Alamo Drafthouse, which struggled to recover from COVID-19 closures and filed for bankruptcy. Through a sale to Altamont Capital Partners, Fortress Investment Group LLC and Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League, the Texas-based company that’s known for its dine-in service and anti-texting stance was able to emerge from its Chapter 11 process. Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan will kick off a string of new Alamo Drafthouse locations due later this year or in 2022 in Staten Island, St. Louis and Washington D.C.
Alamo Drafthouse’s Manhattan debut comes as movie theaters across the country are finally starting to see a meaningful uptick in attendance. Hollywood has welcomed several hits in the last few weeks, including Marvel’s superhero adventure “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” Sony’s comic book adaptation “Venom: Let There Be Carnage” and MGM’s James Bond sequel “No Time to Die.” The hope is that Universal’s thriller “Halloween Kills,” Warner Bros.’ “Dune” remake, Wes Anderson’s comedic drama “The French Dispatch” and Marvel’s “Eternals” will continue the surge in moviegoing and end a dreary 2021 on a high note.
Drafthouse won’t rely on blockbusters alone to draw crowds though. The new location will be home to The Press Room, which is a museum, letterpress print show, bar and private event space. The all-in-one area is unique to the Manhattan location and will display sections from a vast archive of more than 60,000 letterpress film advertising plates spanning the 1930’s through the 1980’s. For those looking to get crafty, the Press Room’s 1938 Vandercook letterpress will be inked and ready to go for special screenings with limited edition greeting cards, private events and classes for those daring enough to learn the art of letterpress printing.
If manual labor isn’t your thing, or if perhaps all that letterpressing has left you parched, the Press Room will be fully stocked with wines and spirits, including a tap wall of 48 draft beers, as well as the option to customize a bespoke cocktail.
“The Press Room bar’s archive of over 60,000 vintage newspaper movie ad plates spans the history of 20th century cinema, and is a testament to Alamo Drafthouse’s ongoing commitment to making moviegoing a truly special experience,” League said.
Alamo Drafthouse is also crafting a film series that pays tribute to the city that never sleeps. The program, curated with movies from the past century set in and about New York City, begins on Oct. 15 with “Speedy,” “King Kong” and “On the Town.” It continues with “Rear Window,” “Barefoot in the Park” and “Putney Swope” on Oct 22; “God Told Me To,” “Smithereens,” “Ghostbusters” and “The Addiction” on Oct. 29; and “Inside Man,” “Good Time” and “Shiva Baby” on Nov. 15.
Additionally, on Nov. 3rd, Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan will participate in the company’s “Godzilla Day,” with plans to exclusively premiere Toho’s new 4K restoration of Godzilla’s 1954 debut film “Gojira.” Over the holidays, Alamo Drafthouse has signature holiday programming in store, commencing with “Elf,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “Love Actually,” “Meet Me in St. Louis” and other seasonal favorites.
Though Alamo Drafthouse’s profile is rising, the movie theater chain isn’t losing sight of its scrappy roots. “We’re undeniably a chain,” League told Variety in a recent cover story. “But the idea was to expand and not feel like a chain but more like a loose network of neighborhood and community theaters that have some oversight to make sure that we’re all marching in the same direction.”