The upstart exhibitor has expanded its reach since launching in 1997, going from a single theater in Austin, Texas to a mini indie empire with 10 locations in Texas and additional outposts in Winchester, VA, Kansas City, MO, and Littleton, CO. But despite recent moves into San Francisco, Kalamazoo, the Washington DC area and New York, where three new locations are planned for Manhattan, Yonkers, and Brooklyn, Los Angeles has proven a tricky market for Drafthouse to break into. Today LA developer Saeed Farkhondehpour said that Drafthouse is this close to bringing a 30,000-square-foot eight-screen theater downtown where a parking lot currently sits. But reps for the exhibitor caution that ink hasn’t yet been put to paper on a deal. “We have had discussions but no formalized agreement”, an Alamo Drafthouse spokesperson told Deadline.
It would be LA’s first Drafthouse theater, but not the first prospective location owner and founder Tim League has looked at in the city. Drafthouse was one of a few companies looking at Westwood’s Avco last year, which ultimately went to luxury theater operator iPic. And the repertory/arthouse scene in LA is already a competitive space, with Cinefamily, the New Beverly, the American Cinematheque’s Egyptian and Aero Theaters, and the Downtown Independent drawing overlapping but disparate niche demos. Still, Drafthouse carries a certain cache with hardcore film buffs. The indie chain’s Austin headquarters have become a movie geek mecca where food and alcohol are served in-theater and a strict no-talking, no-texting policy is actually enforced unlike at most theaters in the country. (Their 2011 movie etiquette PSA made national news.) Meanwhile, its Drafthouse Films distribution arm (Four Lions, Bullhead, Pieta), founded in 2010, is just one of multiple spin-off companies helping fuel the brand.