Tag Archives: Alamo Drafthouse

Daily Cinema Digest – Friday 6 March 2015

Sad movies concessions popcorn

USA - Last year the same Cornell lab blamed action films, now sad films, for people eating more snacks. Free hankies with every tub of super sized popcorn and extra large soda.

Sad movies are bad news for diets. A newly reported study from the Cornell Food and Brand Lab showed movie-goers watching tearjerkers ate between 28% and 55% more popcorn both in the lab and in a mall theater during the Thanksgiving holiday.

According to findings published in a JAMA-Internal Medicine research letter, movie goers ate 28% more popcorn (125 versus 98 grams) when watching the tragedy Love Story than when watching the comedy Sweet Home Alabama.  LINK

Imax home

Imax home screen are now available to order for Russian oligarchs, Malaysian millionaires and the other 0.01% uber wealthy Londoners, as long as they have a basement two storeys high and a couple of million quid (popcorn machine not included). Just don’t ask Odeon to run it for you. [joke!]

London’s super-rich film fans can now have an IMAX screen installed in their homes – at a cost of at least £1.8million.

IMAX Private Theatre has now been launched across Europe, meaning those with the money, space and inclination may now have the equipment used in London venues such as the IMAX Waterloo in the comfort of their own homes.

Due to the size of the screen alone, the minimum space requirement for the system and room for about 10 seats is 22ft wide, 12ft tall and 40ft deep.  LINK

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Tim League Discusses the Alamo Drafthouse Smartphone Policy

Tim League Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse is the premier up-market cinema chain in the United States. Yet it is sometimes better known for its ‘zero tolerance’ approach to people using cellphones, smartphones or even Google Glass in its cinemas.

Following the big response we had to the topic of smartphone use in cinemas (‘Smartphones Are Killing the Cinema Experience‘) we got in touch with Tim League, Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas’ founder and CEO to quiz him about the background and specifics of his chain policy and practices.

Celluloid Junkie: What was the origin of Alamo Drafthouse’s ‘zero tolerance’ towards cellphones, smartphones and wearable devices?

Tim League: For the first few weeks of operation back in 1997, we didn’t have a formal policy. About a month in, we had midnight screenings of “Blue Velvet” which sold out. We had a really cheap Pabst Blue Ribbon special that sold really well and we unfortunately had our first rowdy audience.

I went in the theater and it was out of control. People were chatting and shouting at the screen. I felt sick to my stomach. This wasn’t the theater that I wanted to build. That week I bought a copy of Final Cut Pro 1.0 and taught myself how to use it. I cut together our first Don’t Talk PSA and the zero-tolerance policy was born.

CJ: How was the policy formulated and what staff training was required to put it into practice?

TL:In the old days, I was there every day and I was the enforcer. When there was a complaint, I came in to sort the problem. These days, we have a good amount of training on how to deal with upset customers. We probably throw out 100 or so customers a year, but in general most people quiet down when they get their first warning.

CJ: Can you tell us about the ‘silent notification’ process?

If you have a loud table nearby, you just write down where they are sitting on paper supplied at the table. A server slinks in and takes the note and alerts the manager. A manager will stand in the theater until it happens again. When it does he or she will give the table a warning and tell them they will be thrown out without a refund if it happens again.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 18 December 2014

Kim Jong Il puppet

“The Interview” may have been pulled from cinemas, but that won’t stop this freedom-loving Texan cinema chain from showing a Hollywood film making fun of North Korea’s leaders.

The Alamo Drafthouse in Texas was one independent cinema willing to brave the threat and show the film regardless, it said. But now that it has been cancelled, they have decided to put on a showing of Team America instead.

The cinema hailed that movie – which is about a North Korean plot to destroy the world – as “THE GREATEST MOVIE MADE ABOUT AMERICAN PATRIOTISM EVER”.

The showing on 27 December will be a free-to-attend, sing-along affair, and the cinema says it will be providing enough red, white and blue paraphernalia for everyone.  LINK

Russian cinema

Russia – The collapsing rubel is having an effect on Russia’s multiplexes, forced to seek changes to the terms of their leases.

Russian cinema chains are calling on owners of shopping malls where their theaters are located to adjust rental contracts against the backdrop of the weakening ruble, which threatens to drive them out of business.

Several large cinema chains, including Cinema Park, Karo Film, Kinomaks and Formula Kino, have sent an open letter to mall owners, requesting that rental contracts, in which rent is normally stipulated in U.S. dollars, be revised and rent fixed in rubles.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Monday 24 November 2014


Imax plans to double its presence in the Gulf region over the next three years, the company’s CEO has revealed.

Imax Corporation, the entertainment technology company known for its network of giant cinema screens, is planning to invest between $10 to $25 million (AED36.7 to AED91.2 million) in the Middle East region in the next three years, according to a report from Gulf News.

The company’s CEO, Richard Gelfond, told the paper that his company planned to increase the number of IMAX theatres in the region from fifteen to thirty.

“By 2017, we would double our presence in the region and have about thirty theatres. It is a huge market,” Gelfond said.  LINK

YouTube Preview Image

Last week Dreamwork’s Animation SKG showcased its 360 degree 3D VR (virtual reality) film plans. The demo included a brief clip of a ‘Super Cinema’ scene with assets from Dreamwork Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon” franchise.

At a recent Samsung conference, Dreamworks unveiled “Super Cinema”, a technology that aims to deliver the robust CGI movies that its customers are familiar with in a virtual reality format. That means that Dreamworks would be moving from pre-rendered movies to real-time ones, because just like our video games, the movie has to respond appropriately to where the user is looking.

That might sound simple enough, but consider the fact that Dreamworks demands such a high quality in its films, that rendering a single frame can take more than a day on a given PC. There’s simply no way the company could deliver that level of detail in real-time, so it seems likely that what we’ll wind up with is a really high-quality real-time movie that uses a traditional game engine that makes good use of anti-aliasing. The challenges go beyond that, though.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 21 October 2014

The Space Italy

Last week’s big news was the announcement that UK/European exhibitor Vue had acquired Italian cinema chain The Space. Having previously expanded into Germany and Poland, this was a vote of confidence in the troubled south European market – though The Space is the cinema leader in an otherwise fragmented market, plus Italy had unless most other European territories an excellent cinema year in 2014.

European exhibitor Vue Entertainment International said Thursday it has agreed to acquire The Space Entertainment, a cinema chain in Italy with 36 multiplex theaters with 362 screens.

The deal is Vue’s fourth acquisition in the past three years and is supported via a follow-on investment from the firm’s Canadian owners Omers Private Equity and AIMCo. Over the past three years, Vue has more than doubled the number of cinemas and screens under its ownership from 70 to 187 cinemas and from 678 to 1,727 screens.  LINK

Wanda Cinema

China (PRC) – Wanda has re-filed its IPO documents for a listing in Shenzen. So much for the conspiracy theories that the first failure was a face saving strategy to list in Hong Kong or abroad.

Wanda Cinema Line, China’s biggest theaters chain, has re-filed its application for an IPO.

Its earlier attempt to float on the Shenzhen stock market in July was denied by regulators who said that its documentation was insufficient.

The company plans to issue 60 million shares and raise RMB2 billion ($326 million) of fresh capital.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Thursday 28 August 2014

Maze Runner

Fox’s The Maze Runner will be the first film released in Barco’s Escape triptych-screen format. The film will be released exclusively in five Cinemark locations, two in California and one each in Florida, Texas and Illinois before it is released later in Europe at Brussels Kinepolis Escape Theatre and possibly elsewhere. (BTW Great pairing: Maze + Escape – see what they did there?)

In the case of The Maze Runner, the film was shot in a traditional way, before the decision to use Escape was made. The center screen will display the live-action film, and imagery on the side screens will be extensions of the scenes — i.e., a larger maze — created using visual effects.

“Based on the speed we needed to get this to market and the creative challenges, we tried a new way of rendering and creating the material,” Ted Schilowitz, who is Barco’s “CinemaVangelist” and also works as a futurist at Fox, tells The Hollywood Reporter. This pipeline was built around a Crytek gaming engine for rendering, and computing hardware from Devil & Demon (Schilowitz is president of D&D). The artists worked inside the D&D mobile production unit dubbed Devil’s Playground. (Schilowitz says this sort of setup might also be useful to the struggling VFX industry because “we need to better the tool set so people can be more profitable with their work.”)  LINK

Germany painted posters

The art of big painted billboards in cinemas rather than posters is perhaps most associated with countries like India, but it is still practised in Germany in places such as München, the Yorck cinema in Berlin and this one in Bremen.

Every second weeks she provides a new poster to the Shauburg cinema. 400 to 500 Euro is what the cinema in the trendy Steintor-quarter pays each time for this unique film advertising. “The distributor covers part of the costs. But the main part is paid by us,” says managing director Robert Erdmann. Wulfers cannot live from her dream job alone . Hence she also earns money as a freelance graphic designer and teaching painting classes at the community college.

For her Munich colleagues René Birkner it is the other way around. For 27 years he has been reproducing film posters for three movie theaters in the Bavarian capital. Approximately 40 square meters in size alone is the huge billboard of the movie theater at Sendlinger Tor. To fill it, the 58-year-old must work night shifts regularly. “I feed my family this way.” The rest of the time he paints abstract images. “This is my passion.” LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 13 August 2014

Alamo Drafthouse Downtown LA

Alamo Drafthouse is coming to downtown Los Angeles.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the quirky Austin-based theater chain known for its beer and food service, is expanding into downtown Los Angeles.

The cinema chain, which specializes in independent and repertory films, will open its first L.A. theater at 7th and Flower streets next year, company executives said. Alamo has developed a cult following for its special events, in-seat food and drink service, and themed movie nights.

The Alamo Drafthouse Downtown will have nine screens and seat about 800 people. It will be a high-profile tenant for the mammoth redevelopment project named the Bloc, catering to the expanding population of downtown residents.  LINK

It is heating up the cinema competition in the City of Angels, taking on the nearby Downtown Independent, the Sundance Cinemas in West Hollywood and ArcLight Cinemas, which is expanding to Santa Monica next year, as well as majors such as AMC, Cinepolis and the neighbouring Regal Cinemas L.A. Live Stadium 14.

Perth rooftop silent cinema

Australia – A Perth car park roof is set to get an outdoor cinema with a difference – you will need headphones. Interesting idea.

PERTH’S first “silent cinema” will open on the rooftop of a rundown multistorey car park on Scarborough Beach, under revised plans.

Concerns about noise means moviegoers will be provided with wireless headphones at the proposed Sunset Boulevard outdoor cinema.

Plans for the rooftop venue — which also includes a beach club bar, cafe and pilates/yoga studio — were rejected by the City of Stirling last November.

The Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority, the State Government’s redevelopment agency, has since gained planning control for Scarborough Beach.  LINK

(The concept cinema seems to be showing a black & white version of ‘Dr. No’. Interestingly one of the first major decisions about the first ever James Bond feature film was to shoot it in colour).

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Daily Cinema Digest – Tuesday 8 July 2014

Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Entertainment

Gerry Lopez, CEO of AMC Entertainment

Today’s big news is AMC spending USD $600 million on upgrading its cinemas, primarily introducing bigger and more comfortable seats. The strategy has been flagged before but now everyone is following. It is effectively an admission of defeat in terms of ever hoping that attendance figures will improve. Now it is about extracting as much revenue from the few people that still go to the cinemas (NB: though attendance is up in the renovated screens, but unlikely to boost overall national figures). WSJ has a good analysis:

The nation’s second-largest movie theater chain is spending hundreds of millions of dollars outfitting a number of theaters with La-Z-Boy-type seats that fully recline—a conversion that removes up to two-thirds of a given auditorium’s seating capacity. It’s a less-is-more approach to a business that has long thought bigger was better.

But AMC’s counterintuitive success with the program has converted skeptical competitors and become integral to the company’s pitch to new investors.

The conversions are AMC’s highest-profile campaign since it was purchased for $2.6 billion by China-based Dalian Wanda Group Corp. in 2012 and went public last December. The company plans to spend about $600 million over the next five years to “reseat” 1,800 of its nearly 5,000 screens. The renovations typically cost $350,000 to $500,000 per auditorium, with landlords often shouldering some of the cost. LINK

The WSJ blog also has a good point that you wio’t be finding this in the biggest cities (NYC and LA) as rent is too high already.

The conversions highlight a liability facing the country’s biggest film exhibitors: a supply of outdated theaters that rarely sell out, yet would be costly to tear down and rebuild.

Attendance in renovated AMC auditoriums has leapt 80%, on average, despite the drastic reduction in capacity to sometimes fewer than 70 seats. The company declined to say what the average before-and-after attendance numbers were, though Mr. Lopez acknowledged that the biggest attendance boosts would come in theaters that were weak performers, some of which were losing money. LINK

Event Cinema

Argentina: As the World Cup approaches its conclusion, one country is going all out to show the key game on the big screen. No, not the UK, but rather its old foe Argentina in their game against Germany tonight.

Over 100,000 people across Argentina have watched their national team compete in the 2014 World Cup at movie halls, which broadcast the games.

The National Cinema and Visual Arts Institute (INCAA) said in a statement that it has made 38 movie halls available for screenings of national team matches, featuring star footballer Lionel Messi, Xinhua reported.
Argentina Saturday defeated Belgium 1-0 to advance to the semifinals against the Netherlands in Sao Paulo Wednesday. The two nations haven’t disputed a World Cup semifinal since the 1990 edition in Italy. LINK.

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 11 June 2014

Carmike share price

Carmike Cinemas’ share price is up 166% in the last two year, but that’s not necessarily a good thing, according to research analyst Gary Bourgeault. This long article looks at Carmike’s rollup and acquisition strategy, whether it will be bought by a larger competitor and what price is right.

Carmike has chosen to grow via acquisitions, contrary to its competitor AMC Entertainment (AMC), which is focusing primarily on quality rather than quantity. Nonetheless, Carmike has been able to grow revenue and earnings per screen while adding more theaters to its circuit.

Now, the question is whether or not the acquisition strategy and performance of its individual theaters is reflected in the share price, or the company has heated up too much and is overvalued.

Another catalyst to contemplate is that Carmike is considered a prime candidate for acquisition, as it moves toward its goal of owning 300 theaters and 3,000 screens. At the rate it’s growing in this consolidation atmosphere, I think part of the reason for the surge in share price is the inclusion of the possibility of being acquired by one of its larger rivals.  LINK

Just as with his incisive piece of analysis about AMC, I urge you to read this article in full.

Bow Tie Cinema Schenectady

USA (NY) - Physical attacks on people trying to enjoy a film without others talking are not being taken seriously enough. This dad was attacked by eight people. Will it take another shooting? Justice has definitely not been served in this case. You can read here what originally happened.

In the case of last summer’s vicious attack at the Bow Tie Cinema by a gang of teenagers on an innocent father trying to enjoy a night out with his daughters and their friend, justice for the victims is nowhere in sight.

During the June 28 incident, a Niskayuna man suffered a severe concussion, a broken hand, a damaged tooth and other scrapes after being repeatedly kicked and punched by a group of out-of-control teenagers. One of the man’s daughters also was punched in the face and had her cell phone stolen.  LINK

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Daily Cinema Digest – Wednesday 21 May 2014

4DX advert

Rolling Stone magazine has an overview of what you can expect from the 4D movie going experience. Quite detailed and analytical, cutting through a lot of preconceptions without too much hype.

Most U.S. journalists have only participated in brief 4DX demos, but Rolling Stone was given the opportunity to test-drive a full feature — thus it’s appropriate that our film was a 4D-enhanced version of Need for Speed, the car-crazy Aaron Paul action-thriller. We were curious how the high-octane/low-IQ movie would work with a 4DX upgrade. Here are 8 takeaways from the experience:

It’s incredibly jarring to be in a seat that jerks around
Need for Speed’s first major action sequence — an illegal nighttime drag race — kicks off with a foot slamming down on a gas pedal, and just then your chair lurches back, creating the sensation that you’re in the car. From there, the motion of your chair mimics every turn of the racers’ steering wheels. There’s no escape; you’re part of the film.  LINK


And if you can’t afford the pricey 4DX solution, there is a cheaper alternative now, this one also from Korea.

Moving Image Technologies (MiT) is proud to announce its partnership with leading seating effects technologist ACOUVE Inc. of Korea. MiT will bring the ACOUVE state of the art seating effects system to North and South American cinemas, providing sales, marketing, installation, technical support, warranty and distribution for CINE-SATION.

Joe Delgado, EVP Sales and Marketing for MIT says “We’ve explored the value add landscape for cinemas and concluded that the exhibition industry is doing an incredible job of providing an amenities-driven experience with larger screens, more luxurious seating, immersive sound, and of course the best in Digital 2D and 3D presentation.  LINK


Alamo Drafthouse open tap

USA (TX) – Selling alcoholic beverages in cinemas is up against different by-laws in different states. Alamo Drafthouse is trying to help change the law in Texas.

The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Katy is hosting a fundraiser Wednesday night for Open The Taps, the advocacy group for craft beer drinkers that is helping push the Texas Legislature toward loosening many of the restrictions that affect how our favorite beverage is made and sold in the state.

Alamo has a dog in this fight. The cinema, like all Texas businesses that hold a license to sell liquor in addition to beer and wine, is prohibited from selling to-go jugs of beer poured from their own taps. These growler sales are growing in popularity, and Alamo would like to be able to fill them and sell them the same way that bars with a beer-and-wine-only license can.  LINK

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