Alamo Drafthouse, the boutique theater chain that’s become a favorite among cinephiles, plans to reopen 15 locations in May, including venues in Brooklyn, N.Y., Los Angeles and Dallas.
Alamo’s Brooklyn theater is reviving its box office on May 7, while the Los Angeles and Austin, Texas’ Mueller locations are scheduled to reopen on May 28. By this summer, Alamo Drafthouse anticipates 30 of its U.S. locations will be back online.
The announcement comes on the heels of the recent box office successes of “Godzilla vs. Kong,” “Demon Slayer” and “Mortal Kombat.” Though Hollywood has only been dribbling out new releases, a number of potential blockbusters, including “Fast and Furious” sequel “F9,” Marvel’s “Black Widow” and the musical adaptation of “In the Heights,” are expected to arrive in theaters this summer.
“This past weekend’s box office wasn’t just the biggest for our theaters during the COVID era — in fact, it would have been pretty healthy in ‘the old days’ era,” says Alamo Drafthouse CEO Shelli Taylor. She’s referring to the surprisingly strong debuts for both “Mortal Kombat” ($23 million) and “Demon Slayer” ($21 million) last weekend. It marked the first time since the pandemic that not one, but two movies surpassed $20 million in ticket sales over the first three days in theaters.
“It’s so gratifying to see audiences so enthusiastically embracing not just our theaters, but our industry as a whole,” Taylor said.
It’s been a challenging year for theater operators across the globe, and Alamo Drafthouse is no exception. In March, Alamo Drafthouse filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of the pandemic. The Texas-based chain shuttered a few underperforming locations, but otherwise plans to operate as normal, as the company attempts to restructure and raise capital.
As theaters reopen, Alamo Drafthouse has been planning events and Q&As, in line with pandemic protocols, to entice patrons back to theaters. To that end, the cinema chain won’t just be offering the latest blockbuster. It will also fill its marquees with classics and commercial favorites, such as “Mamma Mia,” Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing,” “Lord of the Rings” and Martin Scorsese’s gangster epic “Goodfellas.”
“We’ve spent the last eight months refining what we think is the safest and most relaxing cinematic experience possible,” says Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse founder and executive chairman. “We are thrilled to finally be able to bring what we’ve learned to New York, Los Angeles and many other theaters for what we hope is the home stretch, and a colossal season of big movies.”
In a recent cover story for Variety, League said he’s certain that Alamo Drafthouse will be able to flourish after the pandemic without having to concede the aspects that make his chain unique.
“We’re not going to change the core of who we are,” League told Variety. “The programming will continue. The whimsy of the experience will continue. The core reasons why we exist and why Karrie [League] and I built the damn theater in the first place are still there. No talking. No texting. Great beer, great food, great sound, great picture. We’re going to keep on doing what we’ve been doing for nearly 25 years.”