July 21, 2004
Alamo Drafthouse expansion

The Alamo Drafthouse is going nationwide.

Tim and Karrie League have sold the franchise and marketing operations of Alamo Drafthouse to Terrell Braly, the company's CEO; John Martin, the company's principal partner; and a silent partner. The new company is known as Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas Ltd.


Because League will be chief creative officer of the new company, the franchises will continue to have the Austin feel of the original Alamo Drafthouse, which features art house films along with B-grade movies such as "Night of the Bloody Apes."

Based on a report by business research firm D&B, Alamo Drafthouse has gross sales of about $900,000 per screen annually, nearly double the industry standard, even though Alamo theaters generally have smaller auditoriums than those found in megaplexes. The reason for the difference: Alamo patrons are willing to plunk down, on average, $15 for a burger and a couple of beers in addition to the $7.50 ticket price.

Braly said the sale came after a year of discussions between him and the Leagues. Braly said he had wanted to buy a "significant equity position" in the company when he joined Alamo Drafthouse in April 2002 as the venue rental manager, but a year ago discussions began on buying the franchise operations.


The first franchise was awarded two years ago to Travis Doss, a University of Texas graduate, who opened the first first theater outside of Austin in a refitted movie house in West Houston.

Doss' Neighborhood Theater Group is working on adding four more theaters in the Houston area, three of which will be built from the ground up.

Another group, Real Dinner Partners, was awarded a franchise last year. It is opening its first theater in San Antonio next month and building another in San Marcos early next year. Real Dinner Partners is planning a second San Antonio location as well as theaters in Waco, Midland, Tyler, San Angelo and Corpus Christi.

Braly said the success and quick expansion of current franchisees prove the Alamo Drafthouse is no longer just a concept but a "real company."

The franchisees each paid $50,000 for the franchise and send 5 percent of their weekly gross revenue to the company as a franchise fee.

Ultimately, the company plans to have 20 franchises and 200 theaters nationwide.

Braly said he and Martin are talking with two other possible franchisees who want to open stores in Colorado and Florida.

"We've had people fly into Austin to see the theaters. That's when we know they are serious," Martin said.

Braly said the goal was to have the 200 theaters in five years. Now, he said, that "may be done in three."

I can't wait for there to be a Houston Drafthouse closer to where I live, and I'm glad to see the concept will spread. If you hear of an Alamo Drafthouse coming to a neighborhood near you, do yourself a favor and check it out.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 21, 2004 to TV and movies | TrackBack

Cool! I very much like the Alamo Drafthouse, especially because I can have a _real_ meal during my movie (and frankly, the prices compare favorably with a lot of area restaurants).

Posted by: Castiron on July 21, 2004 11:51 AM

But how do you export that Austin flair? There's a sorta Alamo Drafthouse-type theater here in DC, but without the aspiring-novelist staff and cult-to-kitsch movie offerings, it'll just be a theatre that feeds you better fare. Franchising always carries the possibility of message dilution, but I hope that aspiring Drafthousers realize that a fundamental key to the AD's success is movie-geek style.

Even when it's not pronounced, it's indispensable—I saw Spider-Man there in Austin and they opened it with clips from ancient Japanese Spider-Man live action shows instead of the normal glut of Pepsi commercials.

Posted by: Kriston on July 21, 2004 1:07 PM

But it's not just in Austin. They've had one here on the west side of Houston for a while now and just opened one up in San Antonio.

Posted by: Tim on July 21, 2004 3:30 PM

This is actually quite a nice concept, except that I can already see the fine print at the end of the commercials when they open one in my neck of the woods:

"Prices higher in New York City".

Then again, I recently found out a family of four going to dinner and movie for a total of close to $100. Anybody remember when dinner and a movie was a cheap date?

Posted by: William Hughes on July 21, 2004 7:51 PM

We have a drafthouse theater proposed for down here in the Galveston area, and the redneck Baptists are already upset about beer being served in a "family venue". God, please don't let those self-righteous jerks spoil everything. If they want to watch a wholesome movie drinking their coke, let them watch it in that huge megachurch auditorium they paid millions for.

Posted by: Dennis on July 22, 2004 5:20 AM

It's very exciting to hear that we will soon be getting a Drafthouse in San Angelo. I think it will go over well here. People are constantly looking for something different to do . Good luck and hope to see you soon!

Posted by: Sandra Merwin on September 10, 2004 12:49 PM

It's very exciting to hear that we will soon be getting a Drafthouse in San Angelo. I think it will go over well here. People are constantly looking for something different to do . Good luck and hope to see you soon!

Posted by: Sandra Merwin on September 10, 2004 12:50 PM

IS there an update on when the Alamo Drafthouse will open in San Marcos? Can't wait....

Posted by: Tara on May 6, 2005 7:09 PM

I have enjoyed all four Draft houses in Austin and am very excited about one opening here in Corpus Christi, bring it on as soon as possible, there a lot of movie buffs here just waiting for you!

Posted by: Jan on June 6, 2005 2:17 PM

We live in the Northwest - would love to see one on FM1960 around Willowbrook or Louetta or Woodlands, Very far to Katy and the West Oaks Mall

Posted by: Cindy on October 30, 2005 5:28 PM