Talk about a "bad news / good news" situation! I'll just give you a little recap and then turn you over to Tim League, the mega-movie-nerd who, along with his lovely wife Karrie, created what became known as "the best movie theater in the country." (I said it first, Entertainment Weekly agreed with me a few years later.) Anyway, the Original Alamo Drafthouse, that blissful oasis of movie geekery that's been wedged in downtown Austin for almost precisely a decade, is closing its doors later this year. Yep, the one that started it all (there are now numerous locations, my favorite being the Drafthouse South Lamar, because they offer the Alamo Magic combined with first-run movies) is about to close its doors forever.

But before you start weeping uncontrollably (as I did before reading the whole letter), you should know that the downtown location will soon be located only a few blocks away ... in an old movie palace ... and they'll be adding a second screen! Awesome! So while it's obviously very sad that the original Drafthouse (which I fell in love with five years ago while covering my first SXSW) will be disappearing, this new venue represents a very big and very exciting step forward for the Alamo posse. They'll be moving into a theater known as The Ritz, and I'm told it's a very classy building that could really use a fresh coat of paint and a whole lot of movie-love.

Frankly I think this is seriously awesome news. The Alamo Downtown is (of course) a phenomenal venue, but it's wedged right between a few rather bombastic night clubs, plus I think it's probably a little too small these days. 80% of the time I've spent at the Alamo Downtown has been in mega-packed houses, and I know from personal experience that Mr. League really hates turning patrons away because of capacity restraints. Even when they're showing free midnight movies, this guy HATES turning people away.

Bittersweet news, of course, but onwards and upwards, right? Everyone here at Cinematical wishes the Leagues nothing but great success as they switch over from "Downtown" to "Ritz" -- and if you plan to be in Austin any time over the next few months, I heartily recommend you head to 4th and Colorado and enjoy the original Drafthouse before it's (sniff) gone forever. If you see me there and you're a female, I'll probably buy you a beer. (Tim's press release / goodbye letter is included after the jump.)
categories Movies, Cinematical