The other day we pointed you to Jerome Weeks’ deep-digging, which churned up a Richardson plan commission hearing that included some site materials branded with the logo of the beloved, Austin-based cinema chain, The Alamo Drafthouse. Is the movie house finally expanding to DFW?
Today, Pegasus News scuffs some shoe leather, gathering in all the details from said hearing, and yes, the Richardson planning commission gave that Alamo Drafthouse theater chain two thumbs up (actually, probably more than that — not sure how many commissioners sit on the board), which advances the proposal to the Richardson City Council on May 14. Given the enthusiasm of the commission hearing (“euphoria”), I expect it passes.
There have been rumors of an Alamo expansion into the DFW area since 2008. The chain has theaters in Houston, San Antonio, and Winchester, Virginia, as well as the original Austin location, which hosts the annual Fantastic Fest.
Perhaps the economy wasn’t quite right in 2008 for an expansion; perhaps the Alamo guys just wanted The Texas Theatre to do a little market testing for them. In fact, it will be interesting to see how the Alamo and Texas subsist in the same market. There will certainly be some overlap in the films they show, and The Texas Theatre models itself, in part, on the Alamo in Austin, famous for its fanboy cine antics and cult love.
That said, the two theaters will be on opposite sides of Dallas, and the Drafthouse’s Bill DiGaetano says he is “excited” about the theater’s proximity to the University of Texas at Dallas (not to mention its “740 seats with a full kitchen and 40 beers on tap”). But I reached out to Aviation Cinema’s Barak Esptein and asked him, will the Alamo cramp their style?
“No concerns at all,” Epstein said. “Were happy Alamo is entering the DFW area! That part of Richardson/North East Dallas desperately needs a first run movie theater.”
And then, what about booking films? The Texas Theatre has been forced on some occasions to hold their screenings of new films until larger players, like the New York-based Angelika chain, get first dibs on opening weekend. Will Alamo create more competition?
“Not really,” Epstein says. “I think they are planning a mostly first run only operation, so we’d be out of their booking district for first run. Not too worried about indie film booking for that part of Dallas. For repertory, we’d probably need to watch the calendars and maybe work together to make sure were both not trying to do the same rep screening in the same time frame. ”
So there you go. With Alamo, plus the Texas, Magnolia, Angelika, Inwood (sort of), and all the major chains, Dallas really is quite the robust movie market.