AUSTIN, Texas – On Tuesday, Alamo Drafthouse announced that it has just closed out its bankruptcy and intends to immediately open five new theater locations.
Back in March, the Austin-based cinema chain filed for Chapter 11 in order to reorganize and as part of a “sale of substantially all its assets” to venture-capital firm, Altamont Capital Partners and Fortress Investment Group, a previous investor and a new backer of the company. Altamont took a noncontrolling interest in the indie movie chain in 2018, as part of its mission to help expand Alamo’s national footprint.
While consumers initially took to Twitter and social media shocked by the company’s previous announcement, Alamo Drafthouse executives were confident that given the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the beginning of new streaming platforms like HBOMax taking off, this was one of the best things that could have happened.
With today’s news of the company closing out the bankruptcy proceedings, consumers can begin to purchase tickets ahead of this summer’s sweet lineup of films.
“We’re so thrilled to be reopening theaters across the country and welcoming back audiences for an unparalleled moviegoing experience with films we’ve been eagerly awaiting for over a year now,” Alamo Drafthouse CEO Shelli Taylor said. “We’re so grateful to our incredible partners at Altamont and Fortress, who are completely aligned with our vision for Alamo Drafthouse’s growth. It’s incredibly exciting to be back on that path so we can bring the Alamo Drafthouse experience to new locations around the country, including our very first locations in Manhattan, St. Louis, and D.C.”
The “B” Word Isn’t All That Bad, According to Alamo Drafthouse CEO
When the company first broke news that it was filing for Chapter 11, it certainly understood the reaction to headlines that said “bankruptcy.” One Alamo exec told Vulture Magazine that they “got texts all day that said ‘I’m so sorry,'” which they said that this wasn’t a bad thing, distinguishing the company’s decision to restructure versus liquidate.
Today’s announcement of the company’s return comes at an exciting time, following its biggest box office opening weekend since COVID-19 first began, with John Krasinski’s “A Quiet Place – Part II” and Disney’s “Cruella” hitting the big screens. Austin has undoubtedly been tackled by the pandemic, beginning with the cancellation of SXSW 2020 last year, Austin City Limits Festival (ACL), along with the widespread closure of theaters.
“It has been a hard year and a half to escape,” Taylor explained. “For us, it meant Chapter 11. That is bankruptcy but not liquidation. So it is a tool to help you back on your feet.”
Now Alamo has plans to continue opening more locations across the country that have been closed, with its staple Mueller location expected to reopen soon, after being closed for more than a year. “Mueller will be the 4th location to open and then we will be opening the last location — the Village — sometime in mid-summer,” Taylor told KXAN News.
The indie cinema chain has served as a staple to the city of Austin since it was first founded in 1997, having expanded to 41 locations nationwide. In March 2020, The Alamo Drafthouse closed all five of its Austin locations, but now are slowly reopening all locations again. At the time of Alamo Drafthouse’s initial bankruptcy filing, it had amassed $105 million in debt, which now Altamont and Fortress have taken over, buying out the majority of Alamo’s long-term liabilities from other lenders. They will also be providing $20 million in financing to allow the remaining cinema locations to operate as the company prepares itself for what it hopes to be a full-slate of hot summer films, including, but not limited to “Black Widow” and “In The Heights.”
“As the country moves forward following the unprecedented 2020 pandemic and moviegoers are returning to theaters, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is excited to announce its continued emergence and growth with the announcement of five new theaters opening this year and next,” the company said in a statement to Deadline.
As pandemic restrictions continue to loosen, movie theaters are finally starting to open back up after a horrendous year plus of having to close its doors. Memorial Day weekend brought the biggest weekend the Alamo Drafthouse box office has seen since the onset of the pandemic.
“The question of whether audiences are ready to return to movie theaters has been answered with a resounding ‘Yes!’” Taylor said.
“This is likely the first time in Alamo Drafthouse history that every single film for every single showtime for a theater has been sold out across a four day period,” League said. “It’s a powerful testament to our collective desire to come together to experience the magic of the big screen again.”
What Can We Expect From the New Locations?
Manhattan, New York
For many, the city of New York beginning to reopen is perhaps one of the brighter headlines to come out of the pandemic. Alamo’s highly anticipated first Manhattan location in Lower Manhattan is a 14-screen theater in the Financial District (28 Liberty), and is expected to open this fall.
The Manhattan location will be home to The Press Room, a brand-new museum, letterpress print shop, bar, and event space. In other words, it definitely fits the New Yorker vibe. Like the century-old wax figure exhibits delicately displayed throughout Alamo Drafthouse Brooklyn’s House of Wax, The Press Room will display selections from a vast archive of over 50,000 letterpress film advertising plates spanning the 1930s through the 1980s. The collection will also come to life every weekend as The Press Room’s 1938 Vandercook letterpress will be inked and fired up to produce souvenir postcards and prints drawn from the collection.
“The Press Room will feature an astounding collection that will serve as a museum of film and advertising history,” League said. “And with 14 screens, we will be able to support the important New York openings of a vast array of films. We’re so excited and can’t wait for New York movie lovers to see what we have in store for them at our Lower Manhattan theater.”
A second theater, which was previously announced, is a theater in Staten Island, which is currently under development with the Flying Guillotine, a martial arts-inspired bar, in partnership with RZA of Wu-Tang Clan.
Greater Washington, D.C.
Per the company’s announcement, there will be two new locations from franchise partners Cojeaux Cinemas, beginning with D.C. proper as the first location. The location will play host to a 9-screen theater located at Bryant Street in northeast Washington, D.C. and is expected to open sometime in winter 2021.
The second location, is a 10-screen theater located in Arlington, Virginia (Crystal City), with an anticipated opening date sometime in the spring of 2022.
St. Louis, Missouri
Expected to open in the spring of 2022, Alamo’s first theater in St. Louis will be in the city’s Midtown district, hosting a 10-screen theater from its franchise partner St. Louis Movies.