Alamo Drafthouse Movie Theater Chain Files for Bankruptcy

A victim of the pandemic, the dine-in cinema is selling its assets to a private-equity firm.

A year ago, the Alamo Drafthouse theater chain re-released some of its favorite movie tie-in menu items, giving customers a chance to order its Parasite-inspired Beef Bulgogi pizza or have an Avengers: Endgame ghost pepper cheeseburger while they watched whatever flick was playing that night. "[W]hile the movie-watching experience is the central focus of everything we do, a big part of living that Alamo Drafthouse life is all the delicious food and drink specials we deliver right to your seat," the company wrote at the time.

It seems like four decades have passed since then. Alamo temporarily closed all of its locations last March, furloughing roughly 80% of its employees; some of those workers were eventually laid off permanently. And now, on top of all that, the chain has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. According to Variety, "substantially all" of Alamo's assets have been purchased by one of its previous investors, Altamont Capital Partners, and affiliates of Fortress Investment group. Tim League, who co-founded the chain in 1997, will stay on as Alamo's executive chairman, as will CEO Shelli Taylor.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema
Barry King / Alamy Stock Photo

"The transaction will provide the company with much-needed incremental financing to stabilize the business during the pandemic, which has had an unprecedented and outsized impact upon the movie theater and dining industries," the company said in a statement quoted by ABC News. "More importantly, it will position Alamo Drafthouse to return to growth and continue executing on its long-term strategic vision."

Although Alamo said that it did not expect business-as-usual (or business-as-it-looks-right-now) to be disrupted, it did announce that the Alamo Drafthouse Ritz in Austin, Texas, as well as its two theaters in New Braunfels, Texas, and Kansas City, Missouri, will close permanently. (The chain, which is headquartered in Austin, also said that face masks will remain mandatory in all of its locations, despite Texas Governor Greg Abott's recent executive order ending the statewide mask mandate. "We are only following the guidance of the CDC and medical experts, not politicians," Alamo tweeted on Tuesday.)

"Because of the increase in vaccination availability, a very exciting slate of new releases, and pent-up audience demand, we're extremely confident that by the end of 2021, the cinema industry—and our theaters specifically—will be thriving," League said in a statement.

Let's hope so. And we can't wait to see what'll be on Alamo's menu when we're all ready to go back.

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