My love for the Alamo Drafthouse in a few paragraphs

The Alamo Drafthouse announced it has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of the Coronavirus. According to the company, the move will give it the financial stability to weather the remainder of the pandemic.

Movie theaters have been closed crossed the country for almost a year. Some theaters open briefly in August for the release of “Tenet.” However, theaters quickly realized they were in trouble as studios continued to push releases into 2021, and fear of the virus stayed steady.

Despite Governor Greg Abbot lifting the mandatory mask mandate and allowing businesses to reopen to 100% on Tuesday, the Alamo Drafthouse didn’t last the day. However, the Alamo Drafthouse committed to following CDC guidelines, remaining at 25% capacity and requiring patrons and staff to wear masks, which I applaud. While some businesses are fit for at least larger capacities, a movie theater is not one of them, and masks should still be enforced for all businesses.

It’s one of the reasons I love the Alamo Drafthouse. They always put the customers first.

Director Keola Racela at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar during a Q&A following his movie “Porno” during the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

When I first walked into an Alamo Drafthouse my freshman year of college, it was a religious experience. It’s like God sent me to Austin, where the company started, to experience it first hand. I spent days of SXSW running to get out of Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar to get back in line for the next screen I wanted to see. My last movie theater trip was a double feature of “Kill Bill” at the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, the iconic 6th street location the company closed permanently due to the pandemic. There was always a piece of me that knew I would be back in Austin for SXSW and watching movies in the Ritz again.

Even as a film buff from LA in the San Fernando Valley, I had never experienced a community of like-minded individuals and immediately fell in love with the chain. The mission statement of the company resonated with me. I got to experience films I never thought I would ever get to experience in a movie theater. You know the way they’re meant to be.

Jim Gaffigan (right) and director Miranda Bailey at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar during the Q&A for “Being Frank,” originally called “You Can Choose Your Family” during the 2018 SXSW film Festival.

Ever since my first visit, I’ve been a loyal Drafthouse patron. It connected me to a culture I’d longed to be apart of. It became the only theater I’d want to go to. I was tired of the overpriced AMC and Arclight theaters in Los Angeles and was elated when an Alamo Drafthouse opening in Downtown LA. The Alamo Drafthouse pushed me to find other small theaters in Los Angeles to support. And despite the long drive on the 5 during rush hour or the hour-long subway ride on the red line, I would always be down there to watch movies.

If you’ve never been or heard of an Alamo Drafthouse, it’s the movie mecca. A palace built by movie lovers for movie lovers. While watching “Joker” opening weekend, it wasn’t uncommon to see a movie like “Clue,” “Reefer Madness,” or 1933’s “King Kong” playing either at the same time or later in the evening or the weekend.

The Alamo Drafthouse Los Angeles’s before opening its doors in 2019. Today it sits empty after closing due to the pandemic. It’s waiting for California to reopen movie theaters across the state to welcome moviegoers again. PC: Christina House / Los Angeles Times

Some of my favorite memories were watching “Inglourious Basterds” with a live Q&A with Sam Levine, watching a movie party for “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” clacking coconuts or shooting off cap guns during a “Clue” movie party. While I made many fond memories at the Alamo Drafthouses in Austin, I looked forward to continuing them at home in Los Angeles.

Luckily, the bankruptcy only closed three locations and not the Los Angeles one. I will patiently wait for California to reopen movie theaters so I can return to the Alamo Drafthouse. I hope you will join me. But in case you aren’t convinced, here are some reasons to go:

  1. Their no talking policy, and you get funny PSA’s like this one,
  2. Their bottomless popcorn is $8, and it comes in a huge bowl (I vary rarely ask for a refill),
  3. The fact you can see “Avengers: Endgame” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” at the same theater,
  4. They have the best pre-shows,
  5. Most of them have bars that are super cool to chill at (The LA one has free video rentals and games you can checkout)

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I am a freelance journalist and film critic. Keep up with everything I’m doing here https://solo.to/jruss2016

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John Russel Walker

I am a freelance journalist and film critic. Keep up with everything I’m doing here https://solo.to/jruss2016