RE­MEM­BER THE ORIG­I­NAL?

20 YEARS AGO, THE FIRST ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE WAS A PRE­VIEW OF CIN­E­MATIC MAGIC TO COME.

Austin Way - - FRONT RUNNER - BY HANNAH MOR­ROW

What is now a fiercely cher­ished Austin in­sti­tu­tion started 20 years ago in a ren­o­vated park­ing garage on Col­orado Street. Fresh from Bak­ers­field, Cal­i­for­nia, new­ly­weds Tim and Kar­rie League opened the first Alamo Drafthouse-—a sec­ond-run the­ater that served food and beer—with only six weeks of pay­roll in the books.

Luck­ily for cinephiles ev­ery­where, show­ings of Austin Pow­ers: In­ter­na­tional Man of Mys­tery brought in crowds, and movie sing-alongs, the Quentin Tarantino Fes­ti­val, and Butt-Numb-A-Thons raised the cin­e­matic bar for what a movie the­ater could be. “We know what we want when we go to the movies,” says Tim League,

“and we know a lot of peo­ple feel the same way we do.”

The orig­i­nal Alamo closed 10 years ago, but now there are more than 25 lo­ca­tions across the coun­try, in­clud­ing Austin’s fam­ily-friendly Alamo Drafthouse Mueller, which opened in March and sports the play­ful Bar­rel O’ Fun bar and event space. This year, ex­pect the Alamo to cel­e­brate its 20th year as only it can.

Tim League—now CEO of the chain as well as founder of its film dis­tri­bu­tion arm, Drafthouse

Films, and the 12-year-old Fan­tas­tic Fest—says it all comes down to de­tails like its vin­tage pre-movie en­ter­tain­ment and strict the­ater eti­quette (its no-talk­ing PSAs have in­cluded ev­ery­one from Gov. Ann Richards to ac­tor Kyle Chan­dler). “Even if the movie is bad, you should have fun,” he says. alam­od­raft­house.com

Where it all started: The orig­i­nal Alamo Drafthouse opened in a ren­o­vated park­ing garage on Col­orado Street in 1997. Af­ter a suc­cess­ful first decade, it closed in 2007 as the Alamo con­cept opened larger the­aters in Austin as well as around the coun­try.

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