Wednesday, June 19, 2024 Jun 19, 2024
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Alamo Drafthouse Abruptly Closes Its Dallas-Fort Worth Theaters

The local franchisor abruptly shuttered the five North Texas cinemas after filing for bankruptcy.
The Alamo location in the Cedars is one of five to shutter after its operator filed for bankruptcy. Courtesy of Vendor

Alamo Drafthouse’s Dallas-Fort Worth cinemas have shuttered after the franchise operator filed for bankruptcy at each of its five locations.

Franchise owner Bill DiGaetano sent an email to employees on Thursday morning announcing that the five-theater DFW chain had permanently closed as of Thursday morning. A notice was posted on the front doors of the Richardson location. A group of wait staff who asked not to be identified said they received an email notice before getting to work.    

“I had a shift at 9 this morning and I was on my way and I see like a message and it says that we’re terminated,” one says.  

Customers were arriving for early showings on Thursday morning. Rhonda Wolfe and her grandchildren were here to see Minions.

“I just feel bad for the employees because they just showed up and I feel bad for my grandkids because they were ready to watch the movie,” she says. “It’s good deal for the price when you’ve got five grandkids.”

Bill DiGaetano first licensed the Alamo brand in 2010, opening the first North Texas location in a Richardson shopping center. The theater kicked off its programming with a pre-opening screening of the sci-fi comedy The World’s End, which included live appearances by its stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. In the years since, the theater chain has opened locations in Lake Highlands, the Cedars neighborhood near downtown, Las Colinas, and Denton. DiGaetano also operated a location in Minnesota, which reportedly has also filed for bankruptcy and was shuttered.

An email to media announcing the decision blamed poor attendance in the years following the pandemic, the Hollywood writers and actors strikes, and prohibitive franchise fees. The release says the years following the pandemic have resulted in “industry-wide economic performance” being “severely down in the fourth quarter of 2023 and in the first quarter of 2024.” It says its franchise fees accounted for nearly 10 percent of its sales, which represented $3.7 million last year.

The release says its owners “infused more than $3.5 million” in new capital to keep the locations open, but couldn’t convince its franchisor to close any of the “most non-profitable locations.”

The bankruptcy filings are not yet available.

“We are deeply saddened to find it necessary to take this step,” the announcement read. “We are grateful to all our employees who put in the work, day in and day out to produce a special movie-going experience and to our many loyal customers for whom it was a pleasure to provide such a special experience.”

The Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse parent company initially filed for bankruptcy in March 2021 after being unable to renegotiate $105 million in debt during the height of the pandemic. The private equity firms Altamont Capital and Fortress Investment Group partnered with Alamo founder Tim League to purchase the assets out of bankruptcy. The company emerged from its Chapter 11 filing in June 2021 with plans to franchise new locations in New York and other states. League expanded the brand nationwide by franchising to operators around the country, including DiGaetano.

Alamo’s parent company sent the below statement:

“We are very disappointed to learn today that our franchisee, which operates five locations in Dallas-Fort Worth, TX and one in Woodbury, MN has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy and is closing their business effective immediately. We are heartbroken for the franchisee’s teammates and the local film communities, however, we are working as quickly as possible to get Alamo Drafthouse Cinema back up and running in these cities. All other Alamo Drafthouse locations are operating as normal, with continued expansion plans across the country.”

Staff members say the news of the closure “came out of nowhere.” The website still offers showtimes through June 15.

“I don’t believe it’s anyone fault,” one staff member says. “I don’t think anyone really knew. Even our general manager apologized for not being able to give us any advance notice. I think everyone here is incredibly sad for this.” 

DiGaetano has not responded to requests for comment.


Danny Gallagher

Danny Gallagher