UPDATED with photos. After what seems like decades, Los Angeles is finally opening the doors to its first Alamo Drafthouse. The Austin-based company has always been looking for a place to set roots in L.A. and now the new location will be open to the public on July 20.
Founded by Tim League, the Alamo Drafthouse is best known as a movie lover’s destination which combines the film-going experience with food an drink service — but more than that, the Drafthouse is known for its “Keep Austin Weird” indie spirit. It plays first-run movies as well as indies and is probably the only network of movie houses that prides themselves on its distinct personality that celebrates a very specific — and fun — cult nature of film.
The Los Angeles location is located in The Bloc in downtown (700 S Flower St.) and is the second Drafthouse to open in California (the first was in San Francisco). Deadline had the opportunity to tour the L.A. location — and it is quite impressive for the space. It has 12 screens with the largest house fitting 63 seats and like every location, you will be able to order food before and during a film while the servers rush in and out with barely any disruption — and if you’re skeptical about that, don’t worry. The Drafthouse servers have mastered the skill of stealth, yet efficient service.
Upon launch, admission prices will range from $17-$18. There will be “sneak peek” screenings exclusively for members of their Alamo Victory program starting July 19 before the Drafthouse opens to the public. The two-week “sneak peek” will feature a wide range of films including The Lion King, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood, Midsommer and The Art of Self-Defense. The Drafthouse will also feature favorite titles from earlier in the year including Booksmart, Fast Color and Slut in a Good Way. They will also include repertory titles like the 4K restoration of Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing.
Starting July 22, the Drafthouse will launch a beta test of the Alamo Season Pass program. The plan will cover a movie-a-day and tickets can be reserved in advance. Each week people from the waitlist will be invited to purchase an Alamo Season Pass at random, on a rolling basis. The price and other features of the season pass will be detailed on the invitation. During the Beta testing period, Alamo Drafthouse will be testing a variety of price points and program features in order to learn what features customers like the most. The final monthly subscription fee will be based on individual markets. Once a customer receives an invitation, they will have two weeks to decide if they want to purchase a pass. If a person decides not to purchase a pass, their place in line will be given to someone else.
In the spirit of League’s adoration for cinema, the halls are lined with authentic, hand-drawn movie posters from his own personal collection while one will have the ability to play 35MM film.
The Drafthouse started in Austin and then continued to open locations throughout Texas before going out of state with theaters in Denver, Raleigh, Phoenix, Orlando, Kansas City and Brooklyn. L.A. marks its 40th location, but more will be opening in more cities including Manhattan and St. Louis.
Each location caters to the city and LA isn’t any different. For their full food menu (including authentic Tex-Mex queso), they will include items specific to the L.A. location including a selection of burritos, but they will have specialty cocktails available in addition to their 45-plus beers on tap.
Speaking of cocktails, since the location is in the center of the filmmaking business, there are movie-themed cocktails exclusively made for L.A. and will be available at the bar in the Video Vortex area of the Drafthouse. Drinks with names like “Naked in New York”, “Ghostbusters”, “Bridesmaids” and “L.A. Confidential” can be ordered from a menu printed on the back of a VHS tape (seriously). Food will also be made available in Video Vortex.
The Video Vortex area is also special to L.A. as it is a space that includes will have programming and gaming events. It is a place where Drafthouse patrons can lounge before and after a movie — or people can just come hang out and enjoy food and drink.
In addition to the retail space of cinephile wares, Mondo collectibles and exclusive Drafthouse merchandise available for purchase, there will be a video rental store that works like an old school Blockbuster (remember those?). Members will be able to rent two videos at a time from a library of 40,000 titles in a wide variety of genres, pulled from Drafthouse’s own archive — for free!
The Drafthouse has also partnered with local video store Vidiots and sell merch from the film destination. All proceeds from sales of Vidiots merchandise go back into supporting the nonprofit’s mission and its upcoming brick-and-mortar relaunch plans. The Vidiots also have a year-long programming partnership with the Drafthouse and will kick off the series “Tales from the Video Store” which will include special guests, including filmmakers, critics, and friends of Vidiots and Alamo Drafthouse who will reminisce about the good ol’ days of video stores.