Alamo Drafthouse: Movie Nerd Paradise
On the opening night of the Alamo Drafthouse’s much-heralded arrival in DTLA, a giant party was thrown. Movie stars, cast members of “Silicon Valley,” and RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan mingled throughout the theater, but one luminary caused party-goers to gawk and stare: legendary film critic Leonard Maltin.
“That says a lot about our audience,” says Anam Syed, the Head of Marketing & Promotions for the DTLA location. “They’re more starstruck by Leonard Maltin than by anyone else in the room.”
This quirky chain of movie theaters (DTLA is their 40th location) was founded in Austin, Texas in 1997, and its arrival in Los Angeles has been met with welcome arms.
The Alamo Drafthouse is not your typical kind of movie theater. When you first arrive, you’ll notice the Video Vortex, their 40,000+ free Blu-ray and DVD rental kiosk. There are board games free to play, vintage arcade games, and a fully stocked bar with the cocktail menu that is presented in old VHS cases.
“The Alamo Drafthouse is like film nerd Christmas,” says Rachel Walker, Head of Creative & Programming for the Drafthouse’s DTLA location. “One of the things I think is great about the Alamo is it’s not exclusive. When you go to the theater, it has ‘Hobbs and Shaw’ and an independent film on the same marquee. You can sit with us at Alamo. If you want a judgment-free film paradise, Alamo’s the spot.”
When you go upstairs to the theaters, you walk down a hallway covered in vintage movie posters. You take your set in a giant recliner, and from there you can order food and drinks throughout your film’s screening.
Both Syed and Walker agree that the queso’s the thing to get there. “It’s like, dangerous,” jokes Walker.
“Our executive chef out of Austin takes great care with the menu,” says Syed. “In addition to our standard menu, we have a huge vegan menu. There are tons of stuff you can get if you are cheese-sensitive or don’t eat meat or animal products. We have 45+ beers on the menu, we have amazing cocktails.”
Their film programming runs the gamut from the most recent blockbuster films to independent cinema, as well as constant specialty screenings. They feature Terror Tuesdays and Weird Wednesday film screenings every week, “Alamo For All” screenings for families and people with special needs, where the lights are up and the sound is played low in the theater, and events such as September’s “Clown’s Only” screening for the upcoming “IT Chapter 2” horror film.
“That screening sold out within minutes of going online,” chuckles Syed.
The major rule is that there is absolutely no talking or texting during their films. They’re dead serious about this, and will gladly kick you out without a refund if you break this rule.
An angry voicemail from an irate moviegoer who was kicked out during a screening has been used as their promo to celebrate this very fact. It’s a hilarious video that quickly went viral and is highly worth watching.
There are so many reasons to love the Alamo Drafthouse. “I want movie lovers to feel like they have this home in DTLA to see awesome stuff all the time,” says Walker.
The Alamo Drafthouse is a special place. If you’re a film lover of any sorts, you’ll feel at home at the Drafthouse. Tell them Leonard Maltin sent you.
drafthouse.com/los-angeles/theater/downtown | 700 W. 7th Street Ste. U240, Los Angeles, CA 90017
Written by Abel Horwitz | Photography by Robiee Ziegler