Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League sits closer than you do



Tim League talks shop at Alamo Mainstreets reopening.
  • Tim League talks shop at Alamo Mainstreet's grand reopening.

Tim League, founder of the Alamo Drafthouse, was in town yesterday to cut the ribbon and reopen the chain's KC outpost. Alamo Drafthouse Mainstreet invited various local dignitaries and media types to the 9 a.m. event, which included a short tour of the improved theater space. There was a pair of the customary oversized novelty scissors on hand, but League had a better idea. He brought a sword, then let a few of those dignitaries lop off some champagne-bottle tops, Napoleon-style.

There were already plenty of mimosas to go around. So many mimosas. So, yeah, it's taken us awhile to get back to 1701 Main and remind y'all that the Alamo is back online. It's back online. (Go. It's pretty great.)

Seems like only yesterday we told you the cinema had temporarily closed its doors to make some changes. Well, they're done, and the place looks sharp and has set a very busy calendar.

After the jump, League gives you some seating advice.

League gets his sword ready for the ribbon.
  • League gets his sword ready for the ribbon.

"I like to sit in maybe the third row or so," League told The Pitch after the tour. He was explaining one crucial fix Alamo has made to this former AMC space: ripping out the first row of seats in the largest of Mainstreet's six auditoriums. (Anyone who'd endured a movie from that old first row can tell you: good move, dude. Seriously, that was no way to see Prometheus.)

With his stubbled head and vintage, Western-cut clothing, League plays the dynamic, vaguely eccentric entrepreneur well. It's not a pose - one on one, he's as geeked out about movies, projection, equipment and design as you'd hope to witness.

One example: A 35mm film projector is joining the Mainstreet's hard-drive fleet. League acknowledges the convenience of digital projection - AMC designed this space to project every movie digitally, from a small server room. But he points out that old-school projection gives the Alamo more options, especially when it comes to booking the film festivals and touring prints that helped make the company nationally known.

League says he hasn't spent much time in Kansas City since the deal to acquire the Mainstreet kicked into gear, but he has studied the local movie market and he knows his new building intimately. He says the best parts of AMC's elaborate restoration of the building remain in place - features he learned from weeks of examining blueprints before his first visit.

For instance, there are plush meeting rooms for Alamo staff downstairs, but League had studied up on the building's history and knew that a different kind of crew once worked that area. "There was a seal tank in the basement," he says of the original space, which was built to accommodate all kinds of traveling shows. "And there were elephant stables."

Just for a second, he pauses and a thought hangs in the air: Maybe someone here needs to set up a couple of live elephants and a bill of elephant-related movies for Alamo. Why not?

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