Sony Pictures buys dine-in movie theater chain Alamo Drafthouse

Alamo Drafthouse, the dine-in movie theater chain that faded during the pandemic before declaring bankruptcy three years ago, has a fresh lease on life after finding a new corporate owner. 

Sony Pictures said Wednesday it has purchased Alamo and will keep its 35 locations open. The theater, whose headquarters will remain in Austin, Texas, will be folded into a new division called Sony Pictures Experiences. As part of the transaction, Sony also acquired Alamo’s genre film festival, Fantastic Fest. 

Sony didn’t disclose the purchase price or other terms of the deal.

Sony Picture President Ravi Ahuja said the deal aligns with the company’s mission of “engaging entertainment fans outside the home in fun and distinctive ways,” adding that “Alamo Drafthouse’s differentiated movie-going experience, admired brand and devoted community fit well with this vision.

Alamo is the nation’s largest privately owned theater chain, with locations in California, New York, Texas, Virginia and other states. The theaters attract more than 10 million customers a year, according to Sony.

Alamo, launched in Austin in 1997, distinguished itself in the land of movie chains by offering customers alcoholic drinks, seat-side food service and a vibe that quickly made a splash among theater goers. The company’s tagline: “The Alamo Drafthouse Theater is good food, good beer and good film, all at the same place!” 

“We were created by film lovers for film lovers,” Alamo CEO Michael Kustermann, who will retain his position, said in a statement. “We know how important this is to Sony, and it serves as further evidence of their commitment to the theatrical experience.”

Social-distancing restrictions due to the pandemic, coupled with the delayed release of new films, slammed its business, Alamo said in filing for bankruptcy in 2021. Alamo had 41 theaters before seeking protection from creditors, but the company closed six locations across north Texas.

Alamo was one of a number of movie theater chains that cratered during the pandemic. The owner of Regal Cinemas, Cineworld, declared bankruptcy in 2022. AMC Theatres risked running out of cash last year until it received a $917 million cash infusion from investors.

Private equity firms Altamont Capital and Fortress Investment bought Alamo as part of its bankruptcy. The theater company emerged from Chapter 11 in March of 2021. 

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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