An Epic History of the Alamo Drafthouse Don’t Talk PSAs

After posting our newest Don’t Talk PSA featuring the Angry Voicemail By a Movie Texter, the Alamo’s been getting a lot of Internet love (and a small amount of hilarious Internet hate from people who loooove texting during movies).

After posting our newest Don’t Talk PSA featuring the Angry Voicemail By a Movie Texter, the Alamo’s been getting a lot of Internet love (and a small amount of hilarious Internet hate from people who loooove texting during movies). We knew that we had a funny video on our hands when we first heard the voicemail, but none of us suspected that it would blow up online as huge as it did. I was thinking about that this afternoon and realized that maybe that’s because the entire concept of kicking people out of the theater for talking, texting, or doing anything else obnoxious that ruins the experience for everyone else is just business as usual for us.

A few other sites have done interviews with Tim League, but until now there hasn’t been one massive collection of our Don’t Talks from over the years. I figured it was time for that to change, so what follows is a list of some of my favorites.



That was the very first Don’t Talk PSA that Tim League put together way back in 1997 when he and Karrie first decided to get serious about enforcing the policy. He picked up a copy of Final Cut Pro and taught himself video editing in a time when most movie theater owners weren’t trying to also be content producers because he knew that he had to get the message across but still maintain the fun of being at the theater. Taking this scene from The Boss where Henry Silva’s hitman takes out a room full of the opposing gang and cutting it out of context set the tone for what would become a Drafthouse mantra - Don’t Talk during the movie, or we’ll take your ass out.



I kept the theme of murdering projectionists going when I came on the team and we realized that if we were going to show the Don’t Talk PSA before every movie then we were going to need to get it swapped out every once in a while. This one sampled from Anguish and recut a couple of scenes to make it look like the poor girl who was scared of a man in the ladies’ room was just really ticking off the projectionist. His particular method of handling the disturbance of a movie talker probably wasn’t improving the experience for everyone else in the theater, but I figure that after years of dealing with those people it was just his time to totally fucking snap.



We’ve invited several noteworthy filmmakers and celebrities to the theater over the years, and back in the early 2000s we realized that it could be really fun to have a collection of messages where some of those guests shared their thoughts about the rudeness of Movie Talkers. This one has one of my favorite reasons for being polite - it’s not for the people around you in the theater, it’s for all the people working up on the screen!



Working with Romero for this PSA was an absolute treat, because he was game for just about anything. “What should I say?” he asked. “Umm… it would be awesome if you said something about turning people into zombies?” I meekishly replied. Then he owned it.



You want people to take your message about not talking seriously? Have Gunnery Sgt. Hartman yell at your crowd. I think it’s fine if you chew popcorn, obviously, but he is right about chompers…



Back in 2004 when the whole world had Vote For Pedro craze, Efren was awesome enough to stop by the Colorado Street location to make an appearance with Napoleon Dynamite. He totally stayed in character when we caught him in the “glamor shots” booth we’d set up in our lobby…



The late Ann Richards was a regular at the Alamo Drafthouse on South Lamar Blvd, and as such she was down for being part of a more extensive shoot than many of our other celebrities from Don’t Talk PSAs have time for. We teamed up with a local filmmaking team, Clasico Entertainment, to produce this super strong PSA.



This was definitely the most fun Don’t Talk to shoot. Richard Garriott was interested in helping out the cause, and he was awesome enough to invite Tim and Henri onto the zero gravity plane to get some footage of them “in space.” It was hard to keep the camera steady, but I think it still came out pretty great.



We’ve been fortunate enough to have Jonah and Michael stop by the theater several times. Back when we had them in town for the premiere of Superbad we asked them to talk about movie talkers in our lobby. Jonah, apparently, is cool with it. We haven’t had to kick him out for being rude or disruptive yet, but Jonah, if you start texting a bunch next time you’re in town we totally will!



As word of our ever growing need for Don’t Talk PSAs spread, filmmakers around Austin (and the world) have begun creating their own versions. To get Danny DeVito’s thoughts on the rudeness of Movie Talkers, a couple of enthusiastic fans met him at a wine signing. Danny, clearly, was game.



Sometimes you don’t need famous people to help you get your point across. Peggy is one of the oldest Alamo Drafthouse fans, and she’s adamant in not wanting to hear you shouting like an idiot. Also, she uses the greatest phrase ever: “I don’t shiv-a-git”



As the Alamo Drafthouse re-merged with our current franchise theaters, it occurred to us that a lot of folks outside of Austin didn’t understand why we have such a strict policy. To amend the situation, Tim League took time to explain.



This brings us back to the latest controversial post. Yes, it’s funny and clearly touches a nerve. The main thing to us at the Alamo is that this one proves we’re serious. We won’t set off a rocket launcher in the theater, but if you talk or text during a movie or event we will take your ass out.

Unless of course it’s a Quote-Along or other Action Pack event. Then it’s a party where the normal rules don’t always apply and sometimes we’ll even display your texts on screen.

But seriously, don’t talk, turn off your phones, and enjoy the movie.