The debut of the new Alamo Drafthouse Dallas, which has a soft opening on February 12 before officially opening on March 9, is a harbinger of great things to come for the acclaimed theater chain in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Fans can initially expect much the same experience in Dallas that they get at the Richardson location, which has been rated No. 1 in customer service among all Alamo Drafthouses. February's programming essentially is Alamo's greatest hits, which complements first-run releases with retrospective screenings and special events like quote- and sing-alongs.
The theater itself will seem both familiar and different for fans of the Richardson location. Decor like classic movie posters and film reel lights abound, but the biggest difference is the seating. Most rows contain reclining seats for extra comfort, and tables now consist of individual ones for each seat rather than the long tables in Richardson.
The table change was done to make it easier for moviegoers to get up and leave their rows; previously they had to climb over other people. But it stands to have an adverse effect on food service, as servers will now have nowhere to hide when taking orders or delivering food. Officials claim the impact on the viewing experience will be minimal, but color us skeptical.
The Dallas location currently has seven auditoriums, seating just over 700 people total, with an option to add an eighth auditorium should the need arise. And with 400 dedicated parking spaces and proximity to both the Convention Center and Cedars DART stations, getting to the new location should be a breeze.
Once it officially opens in March, you'll likely start to see the theater develop its own flavor. One of the things Alamo plans on doing to fit into the neighborhood is show a series of movies made in Dallas, like Bottle Rocket and Bonnie and Clyde.
They'll also start to get involved even more in the local film industry, exploring partnerships with existing film festivals and even looking to start their own film festival in the next two to three years. And just as they've worked with the Eisemann Center for the Performing Arts in Richardson to bring in celebrities who've had events there, you can expect the occasional crossover with events happening in the Dallas Arts District and elsewhere.
Attendees of local film-related conventions like Dallas Comic Con and Texas Frightmare Weekend can expect an increase in tie-in events, especially because Alamo Dallas is a short distance from the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center, site of the main Dallas Comic Con. Creative manager and programmer James Wallace says that they've already lined up at least three events for the upcoming Texas Frightmare Weekend, taking place April 29-May 1.
Now that Alamo Drafthouse DFW has two locations open and two in the works — Little Elm will open in early 2017, and Las Colinas will open mid-2017 — don't expect them to slow down anytime soon. COO Bill DiGaetano says that in addition to those four, they're looking to do as many as six more locations in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, as long as they can find workable locations and people who share their passion for film.
Among those locations will be somewhere near, though not actually in, Fort Worth. A number of issues have prevented them from moving quicker into the area, including their desire to be at least three miles from another movie theater. They are currently scouting locations along the new Chisholm Trail Parkway and other suburban areas.
You can likely count out Lakewood in Dallas for possible expansion, though. There has been clamor for Alamo to take over the old Lakewood Theater, but DiGaetano says that parking will always be an issue there, as well as what he feels is unreasonable rent.
For now, you can expect a variety of different events in and around Dallas, including a series of roadshow events in March and April. More of Alamo Drafthouse can only mean good things for movie lovers in Dallas-Fort Worth.