Wednesday, October 24, 2012 , Updated 5:19 p.m., October 24, 2012
UPDATED: 5 reasons Alamo Drafthouse is worth a venture north of 635
Prepare for an explosion in the film community as Alamo Drafthouse opens its first location in DFW.
RICHARDSON If you have an “Austin friend” – and who doesn’t – you’ve likely heard mention of Alamo Drafthouse. But as many Dallasites and North Texans know, “Austin cool” can at times seem a bit … inflated, bolstered by the “inherent radness” of having the capitol city’s “weird” name slapped across it, but ultimately lacking teeth. Dubiousness may not be totally unwarranted, but suspend judgment a moment.
Alamo Drafthouse broke ground Tuesday morning in the Richardson Heights Shopping Center at Belt Line and 75, and those in attendance were offered a little glimpse of what makes the Austin-based movie and meal chain worth the hype – or at least the particulars that make it a venue worth checking out upon its spring 2013 opening.
While other movie theaters offer the same basic concept – meal, alcohol, and first-run films or “alternative programming” – Alamo Drafthouse is a bit like a Waylon Jennings business model: brash, boozy, and unabashedly Texan. Here are a few reasons the Drafthouse is worth a drive.
While competitors are known for supplementing socially conscious documentaries with panels, lectures, and discussions, Alamo Drafthouse’s alternative screenings mean more than just a polite Q&A. For example, the Austin Drafthouse runs an annual screening of Jaws on Lake Austin where patrons watch while lounging on inner tubes. It gets better: The company hires scuba divers who play a practical joke or two. Other specialty screenings have involved free cap guns for action and sci-fi films, and the chain regularly features a “Hecklevision” series where the no texting policy flies out the window and viewers’ snarkiest jokes are broadcast across the screen, via text message, during masterpieces like So I Married an Axe Murderer and Cyber Seduction. Also keep an eye out for free screenings of TV shows like The Walking Dead and Doctor Who.
Richardson as a destination
Wait, what? No, really. As Richardson Mayor Bob Townsend noted, Richardson boasts a convergence of three major roadways and DART, making the area an easily accessible and centralized location. Within the last few years, developer Sue Walker has worked tirelessly to revitalize the area’s retail and to redevelop its town centers, and the city has infused more than 100 new businesses. Alamo Drafthouse plans to function not only as a movie theater – until Studio Movie Grill’s new flagship location opening on Monday, there were no movie venues in the city – but also a community hang-out with a large patio and lounge accessible to everyone, whether they stay for a movie or not.
While other area movie venues offer adult beverages, at the Drafthouse, beer is kind of a thing. Each location’s menu varies, but online reviewers consistently comment on the food's uniform high-quality. Most locations offer a selection of beer and wine - no word yet as to whether the Richardson one will seek a liquor license [UPDATE: Alamo Drafthouse will also serve liquor, reps just confirmed.] - but the emphasis is always on local breweries. Want a Velvet Hammer with your Dracula marathon (ahem, film nerds)? Keep an eye peeled as more details are released in the coming months.
No kids. Kind of.
Alamo Drafthouse is known for its strict no talking and texting policies (and the public shaming of those in violation), and unlike its competitors, food orders are done through detailed written requests, rather than confused hushed-tones while the movie rolls. Like many venues with adult refreshments and grown-up entertainment, your mini-me is not invited – at least not until she’s over 6. Youths ages 7 to 18 must be accompanied by a chaperone. We call it the NorthPark Method.
Film festival fostering
Award-winning filmmaker, founding artistic director, former board chairman of the Dallas International Film Festival, and president of M3 Films, Michael Cain, was on hand at the groundbreaking to discuss the role that Alamo Drafthouse has played with local independent film industries. The Austin location, for example, presents portions of SXSW and the Austin Film Festival, in addition to hosting a series of smaller festivals. In fact, the Drafthouse is known for going out of its way to partner with community groups, and DFW can expect a similar openness to film appreciation societies, no matter how niche or small.
Alamo Drafthouse's first DFW location is slated to open in spring 2013. During the groundbreaking ceremonies, Alamo-DFW COO Bill C. DiGaetano hinted at a TBD parking lot event set for November 17. We will update as details are released.
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