Alamo Drafthouse files for bankruptcy. How will local theaters be affected?


Alamo Drafthouse Richardson patrons watch special previews ahead of a screening of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit shortly after the official opening of the theater in 2013.

Ed Steele

The business owners of the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater chain may be in a financial problems, but the Dallas-Fort Worth chain will not be affected as they are two separate business entities, according to its owners.

“Alamo is like a Chili’s or Jason’s Deli, and the reason Alamo did this from the start wasn’t for growth,” says Bill C. DiGaetano, co-owner of six Drafthouse theaters in North Texas. “It was to have owners in each specific market who have a vested interest in that community.”

Austin-headquartered state-owned Alamo Drafthouse on Wednesday filed for written bankruptcy protection consent in a Delaware bankruptcy court. The record shows that the company and its parent companies will sell their assets to Altamont Capital and Fortress Investment Group so that Drafthouse can retain its executives – including chain founder Tim League – while it struggles to repay its creditors.

The Drafthouse is the first major movie theater chain to file for bankruptcy since theaters were forced to close or limit audience sizes due to the coronavirus outbreak. The six local Drafthouse theaters – located in downtown Dallas, Richardson, Denton, Lake Highlands, Las Colinas, and North Richland Hills – are owned by DiGaetano and his father Bill D. DiGaetano and operate under the Alamo Drafthouse name. . All six theaters have been closed since last March, except for a six-week period last year from August through September with limited capacity and mask requirements.

“Although the Alamo brand is present in 40 different theaters, there are seven or eight different Alamo franchise partners,” says Bill C. DiGaetano. “For the most part, about half of Alamo stores are franchise stores.”

Part of the challenge of reopening theaters – in addition to the virus’s susceptibility to airborne transmission – is that movie studios have limited their number of new releases week to week due to low audiences.

“A big outing for us doesn’t do the job,” says DiGaetano. “What we need are consistent releases, and that’s what we’re waiting for to be able to reopen, because we’ll still have challenges after that. But that’s what we’re waiting for.”

“It has been an absolutely devastating year for all theaters, and mom and pop theaters have been hit particularly hard. Our intention is to reopen in the summer and achieve what we hope will be our march to normalcy in the theater industry. . ” – Bill C. DiGaetano, owner of Alamo Drafthouse DFW

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There are encouraging signs that cinemas may safely reopen soon. The COVID vaccine could be available to every U.S. citizen by the end of next May thanks to a new vaccine from Johnson & Johnson and Merck, according to a recent address delivered by President Joe Biden.

Dallas County remains under a red level COVID-19 alert and even though Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has lifted all shutdown and mask requirements for businesses, local Drafthouses will remain closed until rates s ‘improve over the next few months. However, DiGaetano says the new stimulus funding programs passed by Congress, such as additional grants from the Small Business Administration and Shuttered Venue Operators, will provide the financial help they need to stay afloat as long as they go. remain closed.

“It’s a lifeline for a lot of us,” says DiGaetano. “It has been an absolutely devastating year for all theaters, and mom and pop theaters have been hit particularly hard. Our intention is to reopen in the summer and achieve what we hope will be our march to normalcy in the theater industry. . ”

DiGaetano says security will remain the main concern of the cinema chain, regardless of its ability to remain open.

“If we don’t think it’s safe, it doesn’t come into our room,” he says. “I think it’s great that the governor is giving people a choice. We can wait and see how the deployment goes and other things that develop, but for us the safety of the guests and the safety of the personnel are primary concerns and our policies will make it the greatest concern. ”



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