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Why Alamo Drafthouse Bucks Cultural Trends

The latest Alamo Drafthouse location has something in common with the very first Alamo theater. Both sprang up on former parking lots.

The debut Drafthouse in Austin, Texas created in 1997 by Tim and Karrie League, featured a single screen, though. The new Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake sports eight screens, keeping in line with modern movie going demands.

That isn’t the only difference, of course.

Many modern chains flaunt their copycat allure. Sink your teeth into a Royale with Cheese in France and chances are it’ll taste exactly like a Quarter Pounder stateside.

Alamo does chains differently. Each location has its own stamp, a direct line to the local community and area resources, right down to the wood flooring. Expect more of the same from Sloans Lake.

alamo-drafthouse-sloans-lake-exterior (1)
The newest Alamo Drafthouse Denver location boasts a lounge, a musical stage and plenty of culinary surprises.

Situated along the colorful Colfax Ave. corridor, the new movie house offers urban style with a splash of retro glee.

It’s still a place for movie purists, of course. That “no talking, no texting” mandate unites the various Alamo theaters.

Angry Voicemail We Got From an Alamo Drafthouse Customer

The chain wears that epic phone message with pride. And more than 4 million views suggest it struck a deep cultural nerve.

Alamo’s Cultural Counter Punch

The entire Alamo concept seems counter-intuitive to our modern age. Television offers a crush of extraordinary new shows. Meanwhile, movie studios cough up a steady stream of cookie-cutter sequels and reboots.

We have affordable, large-screen TVs in our homes and enough streaming options to last a lifetime. Video on Demand services let us watch the latest indie films for the price of a single movie ticket.

It’s never been easier to avoid a trip to the movies.

Yet Alamo has tapped into something missing in the marketplace. The chain serves up an experience, not just a two-hour movie. You sit, and eat, and watch lovingly curated film shorts before showtime.

And, on occasion, you gather en masse to re-watch a classic film you adored so many years ago.

Clearly, Team Alamo is on to something.

The Poster Selection Says It All

Stroll through the corridor connecting the Sloans Lake screens and you’ll find massive movie posters for films dating back decades. Suffice to say it isn’t the usual fare, like vintage “2001: A Space Odyssey” or “Animal House” prints.

Try “Les Rats de Hong-Kong” and “Le Dragon Noir De Shaolin.”

alamo sloans lake drafthouse barfly
Cozy up to the BarFly and you’ll savor local brews, specialty drinks and decor fashioned from local Colorado resources.

Need a stiff drink before showtime? Check out BarFly, the cozy lounge complete with the 1987 Mickey Rourke/Faye Dunaway movie poster that gave the space its name. Patrons can savor 32 beers on tap, most from Colorado’s vibrant micro-brewing community.

And how many movie theaters boast a staff Sommelier like BarFly’s Ian Mueller?

FAST FACT: The Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake features a large, 196-seat theater as well as three 48-seat spaces for more intimate viewings.

Author James Ellroy of “L.A. Confidential” fame kicked off the theater’s May 8 press preview with a scream. Literally. He also sliced open a Champagne bottle with a sabre. He’s a new presence on Alamo’s Colorado scene since moving to Denver. He hosts regular classic film noir screenings at the chain’s Littleton location.

The author’s spirit seemed perfectly aligned with the Alamo ethos.

The new movie house feature food and drink menus curated by Executive Market Chef Seth Rexroad. Nearly every food item is from scratch, down to the salad dressings. That menu doesn’t include the specialty meals served up throughout the year, always tied to a new or vintage film.

The Sloans Lake location marks the second Alamo theater in the greater Denver area. It’ll soon get some company, though. The chain expects to break ground on a third Colorado theater, in Westminster, by year’s end.

Alamo Drafthouse Sloans Lake officially opens May 15, with a soft launch slated for May 11 featuring discounts on food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Photo credit: Dave Minkus

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