As restaurants and movie theaters continue to struggle amid the pandemic (which is still very much ongoing, despite the capitalist delusions of Texas Governor Greg Abbott), several businesses have had to make some tough financial decisions to stay afloat. Beloved theater chain Alamo Drafthouse has filed for bankruptcy, and while that may not sound like the most promising development for the company, the move likely ensures that little will change (for better or worse) in the general sense. Variety reports that Alamo’s Chapter 11 filing is part of a purchase agreement with previous investors Altamont Capital Partners and new investors Fortress Investment Group, and includes “substantially all its assets.” Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League, who last year announced his transition to the position of executive chairman, is among the lenders buying the assets from the company and will remain involved alongside CEO Shelli Taylor—again, it doesn’t seem like a drastic change.
However, in addition to the bankruptcy filing and asset purchase, the company has announced the closure of three Alamo Drafthouse locations. The Austin-based company had grown from a boutique cinema outfit to a nationwide chain with over 40 theaters, with plans to open several more locations before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Alamo Drafthouse will close its theaters in Kansas City, Missouri and New Braunfels, Texas, as well as its downtown Austin location, the Ritz. The latter, situated on rowdy 6th street, was already struggling financially for quite some time pre-pandemic. Still, it was a destination location for many cinephiles with its repertory screenings of 35mm films, its ability to screen 70mm films (including new Quentin Tarantino titles), and its special events with Mondo and visiting filmmakers. With just two screens, there was something intimate and classic about the Ritz, which was—until now—the company’s oldest original location.
It remains to be seen exactly how much or little of an impact this development will have on the Alamo Drafthouse brand, which has also scrapped plans for a location in Orlando. The beloved company has faced a handful of challenges in recent years, its rapid expansion often appearing to take precedent over ethical business practices as reports emerged of sexual harassment and the mishandling of harassment claims, exploitation of its workforce, and poor or abusive treatment of employees. In the movies, you usually only get a second chance at life after re-evaluating your choices and coming to the realization that you need to do and be better. It would be reassuring to know that something similar is taking place behind the scenes at Alamo Drafthouse.
Note: A.V. Club contributor Britt Hayes is a former writer for Birth.Death.Movies, which was published by the Drafthouse. -Ed.