It lives! Yes, after almost two years of a complete rebuild, the Alamo South Lamar will reopen on Aug. 16, with Michel Gondry's Mood Indigo as the centerpiece film for the weekend.
Often described as the Drafthouse empire's mothership, the site closed in January 2013 as part of a massive redevelopment of South Lamar Plaza into the Lamar Union mixed use project. The Drafthouse team had originally hoped to be back in the building last fall, but the sheer scale of the building pushed that back by almost a year. Announcing the long-delayed reopening, Alamo CEO Tim League said, "We wanted to preserve as much of the spirit of the old Alamo South Lamar but extend on the ideas we explored in the first place."
To that end, they hired muralist Heyd Fontenot and sculptor Evan Voyles (responsible for the distinctive biplanes versus aliens design of the old South Lamar lobby) to build new versions of their vision. And past the lobby? Nine screens, each with 4K digital projection, varying in size from 46 to 198 seats, for a total of 975 seats. And yes! There will be parking at the Lamar Union’s 576 space parking garage.
But what about the booze? South Lamar is as famous for the Highball bar as it is for its screenings. The good news is that there will no longer be a need to stagger down the strip mall, as the cocktail lounge will now be inside the complex. There will be a new menu from Alamo chef Jason Donoho and a 24-tap craft beer selection, plus two taps reserved for draft cocktails by Alamo Beverage Director Bill Norris.
Sadly, there was no space for the beloved bowling lanes, but the karaoke rooms return, with seven spaces dedicated to completely new themes: the sideshow-themed Freaks; the funereal Midnight Manor (complete with cemetery look); neon and new wave Truly Outrageous; the freaky deaky Fifth Dimension; vintage console gaming heaven Joysticks; the Black Lodge, where the owls are not what they seem (YVAN eht nioj); and the more-metal-than-thou Inferno. All the themes were selected and decked out by none other than veteran former Drafthouse booker Zack Carlson and his wife Laura Fleischauer of Space Warp Design.
The complex already has a packed dance card: The Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival (aGLIFF) will run there Sept. 7-14, followed only four days later by the tenth anniversary Fantastic Fest. Before that, burlesque show Lowbrow @ The Highball resurrects its monthly residency on Aug. 22 with new show La Creme de Cabaret!
While the full opening is not until the local opening of Mood Indigo at 12:15pm on Saturday, Aug. 16, there will be a soft opening for Alamo Victory members on Friday. More info at www.drafthouse.com.
Copyright © 2021 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.