The latest on Blue Starlite's big move, Drafthouse Mueller's opening day, and AFS Cinema's work in progress
Blue Starlite Mini Urban Drive-In gets a little less urban with its newest location. After tenures on Cesar Chavez, East Sixth, and the backlot of Austin Film Studios (plus seasonal homes in Colorado and Florida), the outdoor cinema now moves to 12419 Lowden Lane, near the Moontower Saloon on Manchaca Road. Founder Josh Frank had originally been eyeing a property just outside of Buda city limits, which would have included camping. However, after an outpouring of support and requests from his Austin regulars, he picked a 3-acre site in South Austin, complete with car hookups, in-car concessions, and a fire pit and picnic area for unwheeled visitors. Plus, Frank may not have the full campsite, but there's a luxury RV for exclusive private screenings and an overnight stay. There'll be a soft opening this weekend before the April 7 grand opening: This sneak peek period, starting March 10, includes back-to-back screenings of Raiders of the Lost Ark and a Grease sing-along, before six nights of the third annual Harry Potter Fest. Tickets and info at www.bluestarlitedrivein.com.
Roll up, roll up! Austin just got its sixth Alamo Drafthouse! The local cinema chain built on weird genre programming finally goes family-friendly with the new Alamo Drafthouse Mueller (1911 Aldrich #120), opening March 9. The site has been subject to much speculation about how its gender-neutral bathrooms will operate, and now's the chance to see them, and everything else at this new six-screen cinema. Every new Drafthouse has a theme, and for Mueller (pronounced Miller), it's all the fun of the fair with a carnival motif, including the Barrel o' Fun. During the day, when families are waiting for screenings at any of the Sony 4K digital projection-fitted screens (ranging from 45 to 140 seats), kids can play boardwalk-style games, while the sugartastic menu features old-timey treats like house-made sodas. After dark, the Barrel becomes the Bar o' Fun, and the same soda syrups become the base for bespoke cocktails, and egg cremes become mature flips. The programming will be family-centric, too: Taking advantage of the fact that their nearest neighbor is kids' museum the Thinkery, there will be screenings that tie the two buildings together. Even better, for adults looking to shake the kids off for a while, there will be a parents' night out, where the young ones go to the Thinkery to play while the grownups get some quiet time. As Mueller programming and promotions Manager Katy Daiger Dial explained, "We're going to strive to have family content every day, and especially during the day, but we're an Alamo, first and foremost." Tickets at www.drafthouse.com/austin/theater/mueller.
The Austin Film Society is building its first-ever permanent home with the AFS Cinema (6226 Middle Fiskville). They've leased the former Marchesa Hall & Theatre for screenings since 2013, but now they're in sole charge of the site, upgrading it from a single screen to a full, two-screen arthouse with a remodeled bar and lobby area: current ETA, May this year. AFS CEO Rebecca Campbell said, "We're working with Richard Linklater on curating the decor, and we're very excited about the design." Also, expect a new gourmet counter service menu from former Qui chef de cuisine Jorge Hernández, including cheese and charcuterie plates, and rum & cola made with smoked gum syrup. In the meantime, AFS is programming at various venues around town, including the Austin Studios screening room: per Campbell, "We're back to our old nomadic ways." Updates and news at www.austinfilm.org/cinema.