Dine-In Theater Chain With Katy Location Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy — Updated
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has announced it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to pandemic-related financial losses. The Texas-based theater chain, which started in Austin in 1997, offers moviegoers an experience that includes food and beverages, including craft beers, served directly to their seats. It was one of the first theaters to offer that level of service. There are now locations in over 20 cities across the United States.
Alamo Drafthouse has made multiple attempts to expand in the Greater Houston area, but has struggled to achieve that goal. Its initial location in the area, and the longest-running, was at West Oaks Mall. It was followed by a Katy location on Mason Road.
When the West Oaks location shuttered on June 25, 2012, Alamo Drafthouse reemerged in the Vintage Park shopping center in Northwest Houston. That one did business for a few years before being bought by Star Cinema, another dine-in theater chain. In the meantime, the Mason Park theater — which by then was showing its age — was shuttered in June 2018 in favor of a newly built outpost in the LaCenterra mixed use development. It features state-of-the-art digital movie projectors, a bar area and spacious lobby.
Other proposed locations in the area have yet to open. An eagerly anticipated Montrose theater was canceled. A League City location, which was announced last February, has yet to open its doors. Plus, ground was broken on an Alamo Drafthouse in Sugar Land near the historic Imperial Sugar factory, but the build out was not completed before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, which diminished revenues and slowed expansion for the chain.
As cited in Forbes, the cinematic landscape in the United States is in flux because consumers haven’t been visiting indoor theaters due to COVID-related mandated closures and personal safety concerns. Instead, viewers have been relying even more on at-home streaming services, which were changing American’s viewing habits before the pandemic. However, Alamo co-founder Tim League says that he is optimistic about the cinema’s future, and the sale of assets should create the financial liquidity needed to bolster Alamo Drafthouse long enough to serve a vaccinated, movie-going public and, according to Variety, keep most of the current locations open. Hopefully, that includes the one in Katy.
Perhaps this new financial direction will also give the company flexibility to reconsider its Houston-area footprint.
Update, 3/4/21, 12:45 p.m.: Alamo Drafthouse posted the following statement to its social media: