They’ve got their work cut out for them…
It may sound like no big deal – other than the Nazi-like rules and regs about talking and texting – but when Alamo Drafthouse takes over the AMC Mainstreet later this week (after AMC gets kicked to the curb), there’s gonna need to be a whole lotta remodeling shaking going on.
That is if Alamo intends to sell enough upscale food and booze to its patrons at the downtown movieplex to make a profit.
Don’t believe me? Check out how roomy other Alamo theaters are in these crowd shots.
The Mainstreet has spacious seating, don’t get me wrong. But nearly 80 percent of its seats are downstairs where it’s not designed (and all but impossible) for servers to deliver the gourmet food and booze the Alamo must sell to survive.
Not without wreeking more movie havoc than merely peering into one’s purse to check a text.
Which, by the way, will get you kicked out of the Alamo quicker than you can say "Davy Crockett."
With no refund, no less. Here’s your coonskin cap, what’s your hurry?
There’s no problem serving food and drink in the Mainstreet’s three tiny screening rooms upstairs. Those theaters were designed for dining and drinking during movies, but they only hold 68 people in the "big" room and 23 in the two smaller ones.
It’s the 431 regular movie seats that are the problem.
And if Alamo hopes to make a profit at the Mainstreet – unlike AMC – it will need to fill those downstairs auditoriums which range in size from 283 seats for the largest to 74 seats for each of the two smaller theaters.
The trick is how to reconfigure the downstairs auditoriums without losing half the seats.
Or forcing patrons to slosh their way to and from their seats while balancing pitchers of beer and upscale food.
From the get go movie insiders were skeptical about AMC being able to make money after sinking $25 million into the Mainstreet with so few seats to sell. Even AMC honcho Gerry Lopez put it this way to the Star yesterday before his comments were taken down by the newspaper an hour later:
"…With six screens…there’s not enough oxygen in that fish bowl for all the fish to live."
It won’t make things any easier for the fish if Alamo has to remove rows of seats so the servers can swim past.
And with $25 million already sunk in the tiny movie money pit, how much more will Alamo have to spend to make the Mainstreet right?
Nobody bothered to ask those questions of Alamo, which has declined to discuss the matter thus far.
"For the time being, the Mainstreet will continue to operate business-as-usual on its own while signature Alamo Drafthouse touches are implemented," Alamo’s Web site teases. "Touches like our ad-free custom preshows, ironclad no-talking/no-texting policy, and the elimination of the traditional front row for a better viewing experience."
The $64 million question being, how many more rows may have to bite the dust before Alamo’s "signature touches" free up room for it to do its food and drink thing?
And after looking at the audience shots from other Alamo’s plexes I have another question.
Does Kansas City have enough movie geeks, dweebs and film snobs downtown to make Alamo’s Mainstreet pay off?