Alamo Drafthouse Theater Chain Plots Post-Chapter 11 Expansion

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the quirky Texas-based theater chain, said Tuesday it plans to open five new locations after emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The new theaters include Alamo’s first location in Manhattan and two in Washington, as well as openings in New York’s Staten Island borough and St. Louis. The Austin-based company is known for its clever marketing, high-end theaters that serve food and cocktails, and special kid-friendly shows.

Expansion is a rare move in the cinema business these days, with about 30% of U.S. theaters still closed temporarily or permanently because of the coronavirus. Alamo’s announcement follows the industry’s best weekend in more than a year, with moviegoers piling into theaters to see “A Quiet Place Part II” from ViacomCBS Inc.’s Paramount Pictures.

“We’re so thrilled to be reopening theaters across the country and welcoming back audiences for an unparalleled moviegoing experience with films we’ve been eagerly awaiting for over a year now,” Shelli Taylor, Alamo Drafthouse’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Alamo Drafthouse filed for bankruptcy protection in March, with plans to emerge under the ownership of investors including Altamont Capital Partners and affiliates of Fortress Investment Group. The chain, which owns 15 theaters and franchises 23 more, shut down over a year ago and has reopened only slowly, with capacity restrictions and few new films to show.

That’s beginning to change. In downtown Los Angeles, every showing of every film over the weekend was sold out, the company said. In addition to “A Quiet Place Part II,” which generated about $50 million in ticket sales across the U.S., Walt Disney Co. released a gritty prequel to “101 Dalmatians” called “Cruella,” which also drew people to theaters.

Other chains are also demonstrating an urge to expand. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. raised $230.5 million with a stock sale to Mudrick Capital Management and pledged to “go on offense” with acquisitions.

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