The Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane enjoyed a very successful soft opening in early March, but they chose to wait until the dust settled after the 2012 SXSW Film Festival to officially celebrate their grand opening. On the morning of Thursday, March 22, friends of the Alamo and local press flocked to the newest and grandest Alamo Drafthouse location in Austin where they were treated to tacos, coffee, Bloody Mary’s and mimosas. Special guest Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Machete) held the ribbon as Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League cut it with a saber; then League held a champagne bottle as Rodriguez slashed it open with a saber. Thankfully, no filmmakers or CEOs were injured by the saber.
Shortly after the grand opening, with the saber stowed safely out of reach, we discussed the new Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane location with League — the man whom Rodriguez referred to as the most “innovative exhibitionist in the country, if not the world.”
What attracted you to the South Mopac and Slaughter location?
Theater placement is a funny game. You need to be three miles from another theater in order to get films. As Austin continues to grow, new opportunities for theaters are opening up. With all the population growth in South Austin, we thought there were plenty of new customers to be served. My folks live in South Austin within easy access to the new Slaughter Lane location, too; so let’s just say I did it for mom and dad.
Are carless Austinites shit out of luck in terms of attending screenings at the Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane?
We have lots of bike racks! I ride my bike down there regularly to go to my folks’ house.
The Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane location is the first newly constructed location you have opened in Austin. How did that factor into the design process?
We’ve made some great advances in theater design — from wall design, acoustic insulation and sound design. I am very proud of the presentation in the rooms we have built. We also had the opportunity to experiment with the 400 Rabbits [cocktail lounge] and a 35 seat microcinema. We’ve only been open a couple of weeks, but both of those experiments are looking to be successful and will be incorporated into future designs of the Alamo.
Were there specific design aspects of your other Austin locations that you consciously set out to improve while designing the Alamo Drafthouse Slaughter Lane location?
Each time we work on a new project we are going to try to improve on the design. I like the new table design, but we’re not quite done yet. We came up with this design very late in the process, after the risers were already in place. There will be some tweaking on the next iteration that should be even better. The other design element I really like is the display cabinets that showcase films from the AGFA non-profit film archive. Since the industry has definitely transitioned to digital, it is more important than ever to preserve 35mm film history. Lots of archives are being literally dumped right now, and AGFA is trying to save as much film as possible.
What are the chances that the Alamo Slaughter location will factor into your programming for Fantastic Fest 2012?
Right now we don’t have any plans to include Slaughter in Fantastic Fest — we like having all the screenings at one venue so that the fans who attend can mingle and interact with each other and not have to fight traffic to get across town for screenings. We may, however, tour a “best of” Fantastic Fest to other venues — and even other cities — after the festival.
How has parenthood effected your approach to running the Alamo Drafthouse locations (as well as your other business ventures)?Are you learning to delegate responsibilities?
Definitely. I am trying to limit my travel and be at home with the family as much as possible. Luckily, we’ve been recruiting great team members for years now and I am very pleased with the management of all the Austin theaters. Fantastic Fest fans can rest assured that being a first-time dad isn’t going to throttle the insanity of the fall event. We plan on the programming and parties to be crazier than ever.
Shortly after our conversation with League, the Alamo Drafthouse announced their plans to open yet another new state of the art theater in Austin. Located at the corner of Lakeline Blvd. and Pecan Park Blvd. (in the new Lakeline Market Shopping Center), Alamo Lakeline will boast 10 screens — the largest of any Alamo theater yet.
And as if that is not enough Alamo Drafthouse news for one week… The Alamo Drafthouse and Dogfish Head Craft Brewery announced the 2012 Off-Centered Film Festival. From April 19th thru 21st, the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar will host a magical weekend of craft beer, gourmet food and quality film. This year’s fest will kick off with a Rolling Roadshow presentation of a Blazing Saddles Quote-Along Beer Party in downtown Austin complete with free beans, cap guns and plenty of pies. Sergio Leone’s epic Once Upon a Time in the West will be paired with a special portfolio tasting from Dogfish Head and Italian food courtesy of Alamo Executive Chef John Bullington. Dogfish Head Founder and Head-Brewer Sam Calagione will be on hand for all of the festivities and is bringing David Wain, Ken Marino and Joe Lo Truglio along with him.
Cinematic Things To Do in Austin This Week:
4/3 – Alamo South Lamar – AFS’ Essential Cinema Series — Children of Abraham/Ibrahim 6 — continues with Lyès Salem’s Masquerades. (More info)
4/4 – Jo’s Coffee Downtown – This month’s selection in Austin Film Festival’s FREE series Living Record: The Music Docs of DA Pennebaker is Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars. (More info)
4/4 – Violet Crown Cinema – AFS, CultureMap Austin and the Violet Crown Cinema host a special presentation of The Reconstruction of Asa Carter complete with complimentary cocktails from Treaty Oak Distillery beforehand, and a Q&A + reception with filmmakers Douglas Newman & Laura Browder following the screening. (More info)
4/4 – Alamo South Lamar – AFS presents a Doc Nights screening of An Encounter with Simone Weil with Director Julia Haslett in attendance for Q&A. (More info)