It's a glorious time to be a hard-core movie lover in NYC. In addition to Metrograph's relatively new art house and the luxurious iPic Theaters at Fulton Market, Alamo Drafthouse—Austin's premiere theater chain with an emphasis on midnight genre fare—is finally opening its first five-boroughs location. Alamo Drafthouse Downtown Brooklyn (445 Albee Square W, Brooklyn) has a hard opening date of this Friday but already they've been screening movies, tweaking the tech and getting people in the spirit.
To that end, Tim League, Alamo's founder and CEO, gave press members a private tour yesterday, one that snaked around the entire complex, several theaters (it's a sevenplex) and the bar and balcony. When you arrive at the Alamo, located on a dusty stretch of development off Fulton Street, you ride the escalator of a shockingly clean mall—the City Point shopping center—up to the fourth floor. Right from the start, you're in a place that caters to those who geek out about all things cinema. That crazy red-and-orange carpet from The Shining lines the floor (an Alamo signature). There's an art installation of King Kong that you can pose behind, hugging the spire of the Empire State Building.
Moving further in, there's a cocktail bar, the House of Wax, where bands will play and vinyl soundtracks will be sold. You walk past creepy death masks of figures like Napoleon sourced from an art exhibit dating back to the 19th century. League explained that such exhibits were themselves the beginning of exploitation cinema—places where you could take in the outré under the guise of serious study.
But the theaters themselves were the most impressive, boasting rumbling sound (we viewed the Rogue One trailer: knocked out) and crystal-clear picture. Some of Alamo's theaters feel intimate (40 seats), others are sizable venues for blockbusters and bigness. All of them sport Alamo's patented dine-in service: pen-and-paper ordering and service by a "ninja-quiet staff," per League. The menu includes steak sandwiches, jerk chicken, all manner of drinks and one necessary holdover from Austin: queso and chips.
League, visibly thrilled, took questions. One of them concerned Alamo's notorious policy of immediate ejection for patrons caught texting. Recognizing that New Yorkers are a different kind of crowd, he still expressed optimism that folks would play by the rules, noting that cops had rarely been called during the entire chain's history. (Brooklyn police might have other priorities.) That said, League is serious about the policy. It's a good fight worth fighting—we can't wait to become regulars.