Film News

More on the original Alamo Drafthouse's big move; plus, will a $40,000 incentive be enough to keep the Lights on in Austin?

Tim League missed his own press conference announcing the original Alamo Drafthouse's move to the Ritz on Sixth Street. No worries: His partner in crime (and in life), Karrie, handled it ably. Meanwhile, League was rafting down Georgia's Chattooga River, the filming locale of Deliverance. More about that below, but first the move details:

The Alamo was clearly doomed in its current Downtown locale with a doubling of rent looming due to rampant growth in the Warehouse District. The Downtown Austin Alliance had suggested the former Hard Rock Cafe site, but League nixed the building as unworkable. Next, the DAA talked to Ritz property owners Larry and Mary Craddock, who wanted to see the historic theatre showing films again in the area. A deal was brokered in a matter of weeks that included a buyout of current Ritz operator Bob Woody's contract. League sees it as a big step up from a beloved theatre that admittedly had a lousy layout and a smallish screen. The Alamo at the Ritz will feature two full-sized screens and stadium seating, at the same time maintaining the kind of programming that has branded the Downtown Alamo's style.

"I love the Downtown space as much or more than anybody," says League of the original Alamo Drafthouse site. "Karrie and I built it with our own hands, but we didn't really have great construction skills back then. There are lots of things we chose because we didn't have the budget to do it effectively. This gives us a chance to start from scratch with my favorite theatre space and do a first-class job."

The Leagues will seek historic status for the Ritz site, which they optimistically hope to have open by August (only if everything goes very smoothly). Demolition crews are already contracted on April 1 (no fooling) to take the Ritz down to its basis structure. The original Alamo will remain open in the interim, but the landlord is actively seeking a new tenant, League says. Look for regular construction updates on the Alamo Drafthouse blog (, and check out the new Wikipedia Ritz page the Alamo has started rife with Ritz history.

The Alamo Drafthouse has quickly developed a history of its own in 10 years. The Leagues fresh from a failed theater venture in Bakersfield, Calif., opened the movie/food/drink experience as a venue for second-run films. Karrie handled the books and hired the staff. Tim was in charge of programming and marketing. That changed when they took over the former Village theaters, and it changed radically when they sold the franchise rights, retaining the downtown, Village and South Lamar theaters.

"We're still filmheads," League said, assuring patrons that events like Fantastic Fest and the Rolling Road Show will continue. Oh, speaking of the Rolling Road Show, expect this year's summer vacation edition to begin and end in Texas while traveling 8,000 miles across this great nation. Confirmed screenings include Deliverance on that thar river mentioned above, and Goldfinger at Fort Knox. How cool is that?

'Friday Night' Might

The Austin City Council has approved an economic development agreement with NBC Universal that will provide a $40,000 incentive for each of the first two seasons of Friday Night Lights shot in Austin. That, of course, assumes the show will have a second season and that the network will choose to shoot here again. Neither is a certainty at this time, as the Texas Legislature mulls statewide incentives for the film and television industries. Stay tuned.

And the Rest ...

The Dallas-shot film Living and Dying, starring Austin actor Curtis Wayne, premieres at the AFI Dallas International Film Festival this Saturday with Wayne – who plays a crazed killer – in attendance and has been picked up for distribution by HBO in May… Bob Ray's "pseudo-intellectual low-brow scatological monkey cartoon" "APE SH!T" is up for your amazement at… Local animating duo Jason Archer and Paul Beck have been commissioned by Al Gore's Live Earth Action Committee to make a short film very quickly for showing at the Tribeca Film Festival… Theatre seats, film reels, studio mixing equipment, and more used in the making of Dazed and Confused, Blood Simple, and Waiting for Guffman are up for auction Saturday at noon at 2831 Manchaca. Previews begin at 11am.

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Tim League, Karrie League, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema at the Ritz, Larry Craddock, Mary Craddock, Downtown Austin Alliance, Friday Night Lights, LIving and Dying

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