Know this about the Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet downtown…
There are better reasons for going there than that they kick people out for talking and texting. Far better reasons.
That said, the Alamo likes to remind moviegoers about giving them the, uh, “silent treatment” before every screening by replaying a crank message from a girl in Austin they kicked out a couple years back.
“Yeah, I was wondering of you guys actually enjoy treating your customers like a pieces of shit?” her rant begins. “Because that’s how I felt when I went to the Alamo Drafthouse!”
On the call goes, replete with expletives.
So did the caller ever complain about being turned into a marketing tool?
“No,” says the 30-something Alamo head Tim League. “We did consult with our lawyers and found that a voice mail is legitimate for us to use as long as we don’t use it to make money.”
Speaking of making money, prior to Alamo taking over from AMC, the betting money was there wouldn’t be enough seats left to sell tickets after the large downstairs theaters were retrofitted for food service.
“We made it though,” League says. “We knew pretty much what our seat count would be.”
Amazingly, the Alamo managed to hang onto 505 of the 545 seats.
Turns out there’s a bit of clemency for the more judicious texters at the Alamo.
“Our policy is complaint driven,” League explains. “So if you’re discreet – if nobody sees it – it’s a slippery slope, but I don’t necessarily advocate that.”
The day I interviewed League, Cinemark unveiled its new Cinemode ap for iPhone and Android that can tell if moviegoers use their cellphones during a movie and sends digital coupons to those who don’t.
Great idea, League says.
And while AMC could not strike black ink at the Mainstreet selling mostly traditional fare like popcorn, soft drinks and candy, can higher ticket food and booze items get the Alamo over the profit hump?
“We hope so,” League says. “We’re basically very excited about the project and we look at the existing box office and feel that we can grow it. And we renewed our parking agreement with Cosentino’s (grocery) and we’re looking at other options.”
Any backlash from that pissed off chick in the promos?
“She went on a country music radio station the week the video exploded on YouTube,” League says. “She was pretty (mad) but she never came back to us. And we had people like on Good Morning America and Maury Povich who wanted to have a showdown between me and her if she ever showed up but…”
League’s wildest don’t text or you’re out of here tale?
“Every once in a while somebody will get upset,” he says. “We’ve had to call the police once or twice.”
“Somebody did follow me out to my car one time because I was the one who complained,” League says. “And he came up to my car and he was yelling at me. So I just rolled up my window and he punched it.”
How’d the big nudist promotion go a while back?
“We’ve done it a couple of times,” League says. “The first time we did it, it was kind of a joke and we weren’t prepared. We had a promotion for a movie called ‘Nude on the Moon,‘ so we had free admission if they came nude. We thought nobody would do it, but they came out in force and we had like 100 people.
“That was when we realized that a clothed person had no desire to sit next to a nude person. So we had to leave a seat between them.”
Not to mention that 100 or so nudies actually showed up that way, right?
“Yes, they were actually waiting outside on the sidewalk nude,” League says. “But we have no plans for that in Kansas City.”
Dare I say, yet?