Austin-based movie theater company Alamo Drafthouse is closing its flagship Ritz location on Sixth Street permanently due to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company is also filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which will allow the business to restructure in order to pay outstanding debts.
As reported by Variety, Alamo Drafthouse will shut down underperforming locations and sell its assets to Altamont Capital Partners and Fortress Investment Group as part of the filing (Altamont was a previous investor in the company, while Fortress is a new investor). Alamo founder and executive chairman Tim League is part of the lender group buying the assets.
This means two Austin-area locations will close: the flagship Ritz location downtown and a theater in New Braunfels. A location in Kansas City also closed, and development on a location in Orlando has been permanently halted. Most of the Alamo Drafthouse’s 41 locations have been closed since March 2020, though a few reopened in June of that year.
The company’s Ritz location opened in a historic movie theater space on East Sixth (the building had opened in 1929, and, at points, operated as a movie theater, music venue, and bar) in November 2007. It was meant to become the “spiritual successor” to the company’s original location at 409 Colorado Street. The Ritz was one of the two only Austin theaters that had a 70mm film projector (the other being the Paramount Theatre). Alamo Drafthouse promised to relocate its signature film series that took place at the Ritz (including Master Pancake Theater and Terror Tuesdays) to its other locations.
League opened the Alamo Drafthouse in 1997, and it quickly became known for putting on quirky events and serving food and drinks during movies. League stepped down as CEO in 2020, partly due to allegations that there was an atmosphere that enabled sexual assault at the company, as reported by Splinter in 2018. He was replaced by former Starbucks executive Shelli Taylor.
- Alamo Drafthouse Files for Chapter 11, Announces Sale to Altamont Capital, Fortress Investment [Variety]
- Au Revoir to the Ritz [Alamo Drafthouse]