Since the messy demise of a certain local arthouse theater on Fairfax a few years ago, I’ve been kind of aimless and missing great movies and the movie-loving friends I was congregating with on an almost weekly basis.
Let’s be clear: one of the main reasons I moved to Los Angeles was because, while I’m not a movie expert, I do love movies and being around cinephiles. I’m a music freak and movie geeks are like our cool next door neighbor where you can chill out on their couch, shoot the shit and get your mind blown.
Thankfully—FINALLY—after years of waiting (kinda inconceivable in this supposed cinema town) there’s a worthy successor: Alamo Drafthouse LA.
Alamo opened last night in The Bloc in DTLA, which is billed as the “largest indoor space on the West Coast.” The Bloc may be doing a bit of creative math there but the complex on 7th and Flower is impressive nonetheless. They also have robots.
Alamo has 12 brand new screens that they built out from an empty shell. They are putting LA people to work too. 150 of us to be exact. All dressed in black and scurrying behind the scenes to bring delectable food and drinks to each moviegoer at their seat. This ain’t no AMC—this is premium shit!
Our tour of Alamo’s inaugural night was conducted by the one-and-only Bret Berg.
More recently Bret’s been heading sales for Alamo-adjacent company AGFA (currently screening some dope films at The Hammer) and hosting superb Voyager Institute events like the Woodstock ’99 gathering of the thuggalos last week.
Berg is a quality guy and he gave us exclusive access to Alamo. (I paid for my own tickets and food, though, so this is a semi-unbiased review of the joint.)
Alamo immediately wows with a gorgeous entry way with cute collectibles and some sweet t-shirts for sale.
There’s a lounge called “VIDEO VORTEX” that seems like a promising space for all kinds of off the wall events (hint hint….coming soon).
There’s a bar and, get this movie fans, a FREE VIDEO RENTAL STORE. What the what?! Yes—it’s true.
You can see Bret Berg’s influence in the little touches like the Vidiots merch in the Alamo gift shop.
Vidiots was one of the very first places I went when I moved to LA in 2002 and, at the time, I couldn’t believe the video selection they had. Their logo is the most ’80s ever! Take that, Stranger Things.
Alamo Drafthouse LA is a veritable labyrinth of screening rooms and passageways—all lined with an incredible array of authentic movie posters form all over the world.
All posters come from majordomo Tim League’s collection. Time seems like a cool guy. But he’s got the twins from The Shining standing in a pool of REAL Jell-o. Sick! I wonder how long that will last?
Anyhow after the tour my fiancé Ryan and I got to be the first-ever attendees of the first-ever screening at Alamo Drafthouse LA. Which means we got to recline in seats that had never been farted or slopped in by anyone but us. Whee!
The movie we saw was The Lion King and there was cat-themed pre-show entertainment which was, dare I say, better than the film. Apparently the custom pre-show is part of the Alamo experience and is a good reason to show up early. I’m an editor, I like weird video—and I’m not easy to impress. They did a really good job here. A++
Alamo food was yummy and unobtrusively and expertly delivered.
Sidenote: has anyone watched the trailer for the new, all-CGI Cats? Good god! It’s the creepiest scariest thing I’ve ever seen and has potential to be a future kitsch classic.
“Adult playground” gets thrown around a lot but this is it for me and I can’t wait to see what kind of special programing happens. In the meantime I’ll be hanging out watching old movies at Alamo Drafthouse LA.