Alamo Drafthouse, the specialty cinema chain that’s famous for in-theater dining and a strict no-cell phone policy, is expanding its North American footprint.
The Texas-based exhibition company plans to open four additional venues in new regions, including Chicago and Birmingham, as well as markets with existing Alamo Drafthouse locations, such as Grand Prairie, Texas and Glendale, Colo. It intends to welcome those venues — and previously announced in-the-works multiplexes in Staten Island, N.Y.; Arlington, Va.; and St. Louis, Mo. — in late 2022 through 2024.
The news comes as North American movie theaters mount a recovery from COVID-19, which brought the industry to a near standstill. Prolonged theater closures and lack of new product forced Alamo Drafthouse to file for Chapter-11 bankruptcy in early 2021. The company has since dusted itself off and plotted significant growth plans in 2022. As part of its bankruptcy filling, Alamo Drafthouse had to close down several underperforming venues and currently maintains close to 40 locations.
“We’re so thankful for the continued strength and recovery of the theater industry thanks to a packed slate of titles in 2022,” says Alamo Drafthouse CEO Shelli Taylor. “And we’re very eager to bring the unique Alamo Drafthouse experience to Chicago, St. Louis, Birmingham, and beyond.”
In the coming months, Alamo Drafthouse leaders feel optimistic about the range of blockbuster-hopefuls on schedule. They include Marvel’s “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness,” “The Batman” starring Robert Pattinson and Tom Cruise’s long-awaited “Top Gun” sequel. Other anticipated titles include Jordan Peele’s mind-bender “Nope” and the Robert Eggers-directed adventure drama “The Northman.”
“Curating a diverse mix of films and showcasing independent artists has always been a passion of ours,” says Alamo Drafthouse founder and executive chairman Tim League. “Expanding our reach into new cities allows us to celebrate these filmmakers with a wider audience.”
Each new location will feature state-of-the-art laser projection, immersive surround sound and luxury recliners in auditoriums. The upcoming cinemas will continue Drafthouse’s commitment to preserving 35mm film, with venues in St. Louis and Staten Island among those offering celluloid projection. The company also intends to expand what they dub the “Big Show” experience, the next-generation premium large format theaters with massive 66′ wide by 28′ tall screens with immersive Dolby audio technology. As is de rigueur for Alamo Drafthouse, every cineplex will be paired with separate full-service bars featuring craft cocktails, wine and local craft beers on tap.
Alamo Drafthouse Staten Island is slated to open in spring of 2022. The theater will be kung-fu themed and will feature nine screens and 893 fully-reclining seats. It will be home to the Flying Guillotine bar, a collaboration with Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA. Similar to the House of Wax and the Press Room bars at Drafthouse’s other NYC locations, the Flying Guillotine will nod to a unique piece of cinema history, in this case, the history of martial arts films. The bar will also showcase an all-martial arts free-rental video store.
For its first Chicago theater, Alamo Drafthouse will set up shop in Wrigleyville by this fall. The six-screen theater will be located directly across the street from Wrigley Field in the Addison and Clark development.
The fourth location in Virginia will post up in the Crystal City neighborhood of the National Landing district in Arlington. The cinema’s operators expect to start welcoming patrons to the nine-screen venue this fall. Following the new Drafthouse DC Bryant Street, the company is collaborating with franchise partners Cojeaux Cinemas, who operate three other Alamo franchises in Virginia.
In Missouri, Gateway City will join the existing Alamo Drafthouses with a 10-screen theater located at the City Foundry STL development in the St. Louis midtown district. The new Alamo Drafthouse St. Louis will be a collaboration with franchise partner St. Louis Alamo Movies and expects to open this fall.
With three Denver-area theaters already in business, Alamo Drafthouse is breaking ground on a Glendale location in the Glendale Entertainment District. The new nine-screen theater will be opening in collaboration with franchise partners Alamo GlenCo Theater near the end of 2023.
In Texas, where Drafthouse was founded, Grand Prairie will accompany the six other movie-houses already in the area. Alamo Drafthouse Grand Prairie will be a 10-screen theater from franchise partner Alamo Grand Prairie Bardin with a planned opening in the beginning of 2024.
Alamo Drafthouse is also headed to the Magic City with its first Birmingham theater. With plans to open in spring of 2024, the nine-screen location will reside at the Powell Avenue Steam Plant in the city’s Parkside District. It is being brought to the new region by franchise partners Birmingham Alamo Movies.