New leadership arrives with retirement announce for Shelli Taylor following incredible growth for the cinema-eatery and industry-leading box office performance this summer.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has announced that Michael Kustermann has been promoted to CEO from his position as President for the growing movie theater company. The Board of Directors, including former CEO Shelli Taylor and Executive Chairman Tim League, named Kustermann as CEO following Taylor’s decision to retire. Under Kustermann’s leadership, the company will continue its path for growth and investment in its theaters, unparalleled moviegoing experience, and building out the best team in the exhibition industry. Taylor will remain on the Alamo Drafthouse Board of Directors.
“I am humbled to become Alamo Drafthouse Cinema’s next CEO, with reverence for all that we do, have done, and will do. I have the awesome privilege of now leading the best teammates in the business who make all the difference… they create an unrivaled guest experience, and we will continue to expand and innovate, creating amazing movie memories for our guests wherever we go. I am confident that as this industry continues to build back, we will keep leading the way, just as we have proven we can with over 18 months of solid double digit growth vs the industry’s recovery. Movies exist to make an impact in our lives and theaters deliver that- period,” says Alamo Drafthouse CEO Michael Kustermann.
“I’m excited for Michael to lead our next phase of growth and evolution. He and I have worked closely over the past two years and I know he will continue to drive our core values and build upon our vision to be the best damn cinema that ever was or will be,” says Alamo Drafthouse Founder Tim League. “Shelli came into Alamo at a time when our company and industry were fighting for our very existence. She guided the company through those dark days, all the way to our current industry-topping performance and renewed expansion. I will be forever grateful that she steadily guided the ship through such an intense storm.”
“I am deeply grateful for the support and trust extended to me by Tim. His guidance and belief in my abilities have been invaluable throughout our journey together. As I pass the torch to Michael, I do so with immense pride and confidence. Michael’s leadership qualities and alignment with our company’s vision make him the perfect successor. I am proud to have worked alongside our incredible teammates, and I am excited about the bright future ahead under Michael’s capable leadership,” says Alamo Drafthouse Board Member Shelli Taylor.
Kustermann will step into the role of CEO, effective August 11, following a period of seamless transition with Taylor. Since joining the company and serving as President, Kustermann has showcased his wealth of experience and passion for Alamo Drafthouse, the industry, and the world of film. His contributions have been significant, driving key initiatives such as team culture and development, the Silent Service menu ordering system, the Season Pass subscription plan, Rolling Roadshow, and new concept innovation. Under Kustermann’s leadership and guidance, Alamo Drafthouse will continue innovating, championing great movies and expanding into new territories across the US.
Taylor took on the role of CEO in 2020 during an immensely difficult time for the industry amidst a global pandemic. Given the Herculean task with unprecedented challenges, Taylor and Alamo Drafthouse’s incredible teammates rolled up their sleeves and undertook the arduous task of restructuring the company, finding efficiencies, and becoming stronger.
In 2023, Alamo Drafthouse is once again at the forefront of the industry recovery, leading the way for over 18 consecutive months. Comp location sales recovery vs 2019 outpaced the industry every month of 2022 and 2023. For 2023 to date, Alamo Drafthouse remains the only top 10 theater chain to be over 100% of 2019 recovery for system wide sales. A stable slate of films coupled with Alamo’s unique brand and guest experience is contributing to this success. Alamo Drafthouse also leads the industry in the wide variety of films shown, finding great success not only with tent poles, but also adult-driven fare, all supported by the kind of Alamo Drafthouse experience that is unique to the industry. Examples include a surprise nationwide April Fool’s Day premiere for A24’s BEAU IS AFRAID, the Drafthouse Recommends label for “Past Lives,” a custom themed menu for “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” and a custom pop-up at the Manhattan location for Focus Features’ “Asteroid City.” For 2023 to date, Alamo Drafthouse has programmed more films than any other top 10 exhibitor, with over 800 different films so far, doubling the average.
Growth remains a healthy part of Alamo Drafthouse’s horizon, having opened 6 theaters since the pandemic in new markets like Chicago, St. Louis, and Washington DC, with more on the way including the company’s first locations in Boston and Florida, with more to be announced soon.
Founded in 1997 by Tim and Karrie League, Alamo Drafthouse has been heralded for unique programming events, great food and drinks, and high exhibition standards, earning accolades including “Best Theater Ever” by Time Magazine and “The Coolest Theater in the World” by Wired. A September 2018 Market Force Information survey of nearly 13,000 moviegoers across the country gave Alamo Drafthouse the #1 ranking for Favorite Movie Theater, Best Service, and all food and beverage-related categories.
Alamo Drafthouse provides a unique combination of theater and restaurant, showing first-run movies, independent films and special events with an extensive menu made from scratch. Guests order all food and drinks from servers who quietly attend to them throughout the movie from inside the theater. Instead of a barrage of advertising, before each feature Alamo Drafthouse shows a curated pre-show of rare and humorous clips themed to each feature.
Additionally, Alamo Drafthouse protects the theatrical experience with a zero tolerance policy for people who disrupt the film with talking or texting. Alamo Drafthouse’s “Don’t Talk” PSAs have frequently received national attention, and have featured former Texas Governor Ann Richards, Jeff Goldblum and a velociraptor, Georgie from IT, and one very angry voicemail.
About Alamo Drafthouse
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema was founded in 1997 as a single-screen mom and pop repertory theater in Austin, TX. Twenty-six years later, with 39 locations and counting, Alamo Drafthouse has been called “the best theater in America” by Entertainment Weekly and “the best theater in the world” by Wired. Alamo Drafthouse has built a reputation as a movie lover’s oasis not only by combining best-in-class food and drink service with the movie-going experience, but also introducing unique programming and high-profile, star-studded special events. Alamo Drafthouse created Fantastic Fest, a world-renowned genre film festival dubbed “The Geek Telluride” by Variety featuring independents, international filmmakers, and major Hollywood studios. Alamo Drafthouse continues to expand its brand in new and exciting ways, including the American Genre Film Archive, a non-profit film archive dedicated to preserving, restoring and sharing film, and with several new theaters announced for this year and beyond.