We Don't Need No Stinking Schedule!

Alamo Downtown hopes to redefine movie listings.

Anyone visiting the Original Alamo website last Wednesday would have seen a last-minute addition to the schedule at the Alamo Downtown at the Ritz. An extra early-evening (well, 10pm) Weird Wednesday impromptu screening of the gloriously mad Black Devil Doll From Hell. Rather than being a surprise screen-filler, this kind of quick addition to the listings could become commonplace.

In what booker Lars Nilsen calls a "nascent idea," the Ritz will be adding a little more flexibility to its scheduling. Trying to book the theater two months in advance for the brochure could create problems. For example, the opportunity to host Vincent Gallo's RRIICCEE was comparatively last-minute. So rather than publicize a schedule it can't always keep up with, they'll be taking a more innovative approach. "With the first two months of the Ritz we have already started leaving holes in the calendar," said Nilsen. "This lets us make on the fly decisions about programming based on developing availability and audience demand."

Much of the schedule at the Ritz will still be set in stone months in advance. The specific times of showings may shift, to reflect increased or decreased demand. But there will also be holes in the time-table, where extra screenings or special events can be dropped in at a few weeks, days, or even hours' notice. "Virtually all of our audience uses the internet, we want to steer people to our online calender, the papers or other listings-type sites to find out what's going on when," said Nilsen. "Also subscribers to our email newsletter and rss feeds will be well informed."

What about canceled shows, or anyone who turns up at the last minute? Advance online ticket buyers will be refunded, and the good attendance for Black Devil Doll proves somewhat that this webcentric, late-breaking system can work. "We have so few disappointed parties appearing at the theater in those situations," said Lars, "it makes us think that most people are using the web for making their final plans."

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