Before it came to North Texas, the Alamo Drafthouse was first brought to many of our attentions by the 2011 viral YouTube video titled "Don't Talk - Angry Voicemail." In the video, a young woman's voice rambles on about her feelings about the "crappy" theater after she was kicked out for texting. The video uses the woman's tirade to poke fun at anyone who believes texting during a movie is an American right. Right then, movie lovers across the nation rejoiced and became green with envy at those lucky enough to have a Drafthouse in their town.
Then, there have been all those Ain't It Cool News features that highlight the fun-filled, movie-themed events thrown by the theaters. Well my North Texas friends, one of their most recent articles was on "Edgar Wright's Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy," which took place in (drum roll) Richardson.
The Alamo Drafthouse in Richardson opened in August and we had to get a look ourselves. So, we went to the source, James Wallace—the creative mind behind the Dallas-Fort Worth location, to find out what's in store for local movie fans. P.S. One of our biggest surprises was the impressive array of draft beers offered at their bar.
MARJORIE: What's your job title and what does it entail?
JAMES: My official title is Programmer/Creative Manager. It entails balancing all these invisible hats I'm wearing on my head! While I'm kind of a Swiss Army knife of roles around here, my main role is to curate the repertory programming we have at Alamo DFW and dream up all the silly crazy things we do to bring people more into the experience of the film.
M: Why did you want the job? Always been a big movie fan?
J: I mean, it's a dream job come true for a movie nerd like me! Ever since I came out of the womb in a Jedi robe and Indiana Jones fedora, I've been enraptured by the magic of cinema. I've never wanted to do anything else. I've loved movies my whole life. Now to get to do this as a career, it's hard to call it a job. It's unreal to get to go to work everyday and just spend my time in a movie theater and do the things I do. Last week, I had to go out and find a real ninja sword for something crazy we had planned. What other job would that be part of your day? Unless, of course, you were a real life ninja.
M: What attracted the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema to North Texas?
J: Well, it's been a long time coming. There were several attempts over the last decade to plant one here but I think the stars finally aligned and that's why it happened now the way it did. We're coming in on this great emerging craft brewery scene and Dallas has made leaps and bounds the past few years in terms of being a hip city with cool Austin-like spots around the metroplex. Above all, I think the film scene was ready for it. I've lived in Dallas my whole life and loved film my whole life so I know we have this great film community here. But, unlike somewhere like Austin, you can't just blindly stumble into it. You have to seek it out. I think that's because there hasn't been a gathering place for everyone to come together. That's what we want to be for the movie lovers of North Texas!
M: What makes the Drafthouse different from other movie theaters?
J: Everything! The first thing being our famous "No Texting, No Talking" policy when you see other theaters trying to embrace texting to stay ahead. We're all about preserving the movie-going experience. Above that, we're a movie theater by movie lovers for movie lovers and that's how we run our business—from the quality of the experience, which doesn't always make the most dollars and sense on paper. We also pride ourselves on fresh made-from-scratch food and our extensive craft draft beer selection, 32 taps! And those are about the only things we take seriously. Outside of that, we're all about bringing fun back to going to the movies and making the experience of the film extend beyond the screen, whether it be something simple like our custom preshow (you'll never get bombarded by ads by us before your movie) to themed menu specials to the shenanigans we do for movies, which range from Quote-Alongs to giving everyone props to play along to shooting a guy out of a cannon for Man of Steel.
M: What's been your favorite moment since the Alamo Drafthouse opened in Richardson?
J: There's been so many and we've only been open two weeks! But I'd have to say hands down it was having Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost here for a special "Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy" event in honor of The World's End. It was a special cinematic christening right before we opened and honestly there aren't three guys that make films that encompass Drafthouse more than those guys so it was, to quote Shaun of the Dead, "perfick!"
M: We know this is in Austin, but that's not too far of a drive. Tell us about Fantastic Fest. Why might it be worth the journey to check out?
J: Fantastic Fest is a seven-day orgy of genre films from all over the world, a lot of which will be your only opportunity to see them. Needless to say, it's the most fun you can humanly have at a film festival. Imagine the crazy stupid fun we have on a regular basis at Alamo Drafthouse then cover it in green radioactive goo that makes it all super and that's Fantastic Fest.
M: Now to the very important topic of food. What would you recommend from the theater's menu?
J: Man, tough question! This is almost as hard as picking my favorite film! I genuinely think all our food is really good but my go-to are always our pizza and our Royale With Cheese burger, which you can always get as a tasty grilled chicken sandwich. Like I mentioned though, all our food is fresh and made-from-scratch in house yet affordable so you really can't go wrong.
M: What upcoming event are you looking forward to the most?
J: Every month, our programming is either themed around a big new release that month or the time of year. September is typically a slower time of the year for first runs so we went with a back to school theme and there's so much fun stuff in there. A 'Mean Girls Quote Along,' a 'Grease Sing-Along,' Rushmore, American Graffiti and Fast Times all in 35MM and much more. We're also lucky enough to be one of the stops on the 'Alamo Wonka Tour' on September 24, featuring a showing of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory with a candy feast and Paris Themmen, who played Mike Teevee, and Julie Dawn Cole, who played Veruca Salt, in attendance.
M: Lastly, if you could pick any movie to screen what would it be and why?
J: BACK TO THE FUTURE. Favorite movie of all time. But, because of that I want to do something really "heavy" with it when we show it. And trust me, when we finally do, "you're gonna see some serious $#!%."