Alamo Drafthouse, the Texas-based theater chain that essentially created the dinner-and-a-movie experience as we know it — and inspired Brooklyn’s own Nitehawk Cinema — has finally opened a location in Manhattan.
The company’s move into the borough has been nearly a decade in the making. Alamo originally planned to take over the old Metro Theater on the Upper West Side, but Superstorm Sandy made construction costs prohibitively expensive, said Alamo founder Tim League.
“Opening a new theater in Manhattan is hard,” League told Gothamist. “It’s a built city. Unless you’re tearing down a skyscraper and starting from scratch, you can’t find the ceiling heights and space. So when this space became available in the financial district, we jumped on it.”
Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan, located in a subterranean space on Liberty Street in the Financial District, is the company’s third location in the New York City area, joining the downtown Brooklyn theater, and another in Yonkers.
Because of the new theater’s unique layout, Alamo was able to include 14 screens, albeit smaller ones that range from 25 to 60 seats.
“This allows us so many more opportunities to play indie films, foreign languages films, documentaries — the movies we’re not able to support on our seven screens in Brooklyn,” League said. In a 25-seat theater, he explained, “you can play the Jacques Cousteau documentary and have it be a success, and keep it running long enough to get the word out.”
While the Financial District has struggled to regain activity since the pandemic kept many office workers home, League said he’s surprised and encouraged by the amount of families that live among the neighborhood’s banks and offices. In addition to playing family-friendly blockbusters, the theater plans to show a series of classic holiday films starting in November.
Besides Alamo’s signature draw of “cold beer and hot pizza” inside the screening rooms, the Manhattan theater also includes a separate bar called the Press Room, which houses a massive archive of wooden letterpress blocks that were used to make movie ads in newspapers going back to the 1930s.
The bar also contains a working 1938 Vandercook letterpress, which will be used to make souvenir prints for Alamo moviegoers who are there to see select films such as Superman and West Side Story.
In addition to this new Financial District location, Alamo is also planning to open a theater in Staten Island, which will have a kung-fu themed video store and bar co-designed and curated by Wu-Tang Clan's RZA.
Alamo Drafthouse Manhattan is located on the lower level of 28 Liberty Street in the Financial District. Films currently screening there include French Dispatch, Dune, Lamb, The Harder They Fall, No Time To Die, Barefoot in the Park, Rear Window, The Last Duel, Halloween Kills, Becoming Cousteau, and Venom: Let There Be Carnage.