Once Upon A Time…In A New Alamo Drafthouse

The Downtown L.A. theater is open, so it's time to party.

Disclosure: Birth.Movies.Death. is owned by the Alamo Drafthouse.

After years of waiting, the Alamo Drafthouse has finally come to Los Angeles, with a downtown location boasting 12 screens, a Video Vortex location with 40,000 titles free to rent on DVD and Blu-ray, and, of course, a full bar. (Which, my lawyer will attest, had no influence on the paragraphs that follow.)

The DTLA theater has been in "sneak preview" mode for the last couple weeks, with 35mm screenings of Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood playing daily, in addition to a slate of current and revival programming. (If you missed Fast Color earlier this year, for example, the DTLA theater offered a week's worth of showtimes to catch it.)

On Thursday, August 8, the Alamo threw the doors open for a grand opening party. Ten theaters were converted into event spaces — the Chaos Karaoke theater, a comedy showcase, a face-painting station, a 16mm screening room with old stunt instructional movies — as people roamed halls decorated with quad posters and a case featuring twin mannequins dressed as the Grady Twins from The Shining. A scavenger hunt prodded players to explore all the corners of the new space.

Movie theaters are not made to be party places, but if this whole "creating an ideal environment in which to enjoy a film the way it was meant to be seen" thing doesn't work out, the Drafthouse might have a second life as an event space. Guests like RZA (whose conversation with Tim I accidentally broke up, sorry RZA), Zoe Bell, screenwriter/producer Larry Karaszewski, Martin Starr, and Leonard Maltin all hung out, Fantastic Fest-style. Neil Hamburger scowled through the halls. It felt like a house party, which reflects the fact that the Drafthouse has the potential to be a community hub for L.A. audiences.

This opening couldn't take place at a better time. Los Angeles has just lost one huge theater that featured consistently great repertory programming: The Bing Theater at LACMA, formerly housed a building that is being torn down as the museum is revamped. Another new venue, the big Academy theater, has been delayed until at least 2020. We need more big screens in Los Angeles; ones that serve tiki drinks are particularly welcome.

(All images in this post via Tiffany Roohani)