An Open Letter to the Alamo Drafthouse

UPDATED: Like I said, good people:


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Dear Alamo Drafthouse,

I have lived in Austin for nearly a decade and you are still one of my most favorite things about this city. When my friends or family come to town, I always try to take them to a movie at the Alamo (when my parents were here last month, we went and watched White Christmas on the big screen and it was a real treat). When my husband and I get the chance to go see a movie, we always take it and we always go to your theaters. And my 4-year-old son has only ever seen two movies in the theater, both of them at the Alamo.

I love that you serve 512 Pecan Porter ice cream shakes and those amazing peanut butter banana cookies warm from the oven. I have spilt salsa and queso down my front multiple times in a dark theatre while trying to get it in my mouth and I’ve experienced that mortifying moment when the movie gets quiet right as I bite into the tortilla chips that came as a side with my black bean burger.

Also, you have THE best policy of any theater anywhere:

We have zero tolerance for talking or cell phone use of any kind during movies, and we aren’t afraid to kick anyone rude enough to start texting their friends during a show right out of the theater. We also hate it when other movie theaters make you watch advertisements after you’ve already paid to see the movie, so we’re vigilant about never letting ads hit our screens – we’ve even turned down PSAs for great causes because we don’t want ANYTHING to disrupt your experience of the show. Instead of ads or mind-numbing content named after the number of minutes you have to sit through it if you get to the theater early, we create custom preshows with content themed to most of the features we program.

I have gone to multiple Master Pancake shows, spent one Valentine’s watching Moulin Rouge and eating a feast (I still dream about that food), have attended both the Boy Band and the 90s Alternative sing alongs, have laughed and learned at The Dionysium, and have watched The Wizard of Oz set to the soundtrack of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. When I was a new mom, struggling with cabin fever, I took advantage of the amazing Baby Day that you all do where the sound is turned down, the lights a bit up, and everyone who buys a ticket is told to expect babies in the audience. Once, I went to see some weird ass movie that Ryan Reynolds was starring in because he was there at the screening. But that douchebag left before we got around to the Q+A. The director was a good sport, though.

For my 30th birthday, we went to the Harry Potter ball at the Highball. There was a Harry Potter-themed feast, dancing to live music, Harry Potter games, a photographer snapping pics, the works! And then right before midnight, you all shuffled us next door to the South Lamar Alamo and we saw the first part of Deathly Hallows at 12:01 on Friday morning that day it was released in US theaters.

Finally, one time, I was supposed to go to the Old School quote-a-long but you guys had this incredibly offensive YouTube video that ran in the pre-show that I found triggering and insensitive to sexual assault victims. We left before the show started when the video rolled through for the second time and I couldn’t stand to hear it again. You very nicely refunded our money. And when I wrote you to tell you why I was upset and why we left, you responded quickly, compassionately, and removed the offensive video from your pre-show lineup.

This is all to say, I thoroughly enjoy the programming at the Alamo Drafthouse in all its many forms and I think you’re quality people.

And so when I saw this tweet today:

I felt compelled to write you all.

Because this tweet made me interested in who you all hire for your programmers at the Drafthouse because you do such cool, innovative, and fun stuff. And it turns out that you hire white men. I don’t know anything about the history of the Alamo Drafthouse and maybe this is just a snapshot of how it is now and it hasn’t always been this way. But just in case, I have a suggestion.

You are probably about to hire someone new. So, I’m writing you today to ask that you consider diversifying your programming staff. Because that can only make what is already an amazing place EVEN MORE AMAZING.

Now, you do have Sarah Pitre, who runs “Girlie Night,” “Afternoon Tea” and “Man Crush,” all of which are awesome. I read romance novels and have seen Becoming Jane, Ever After, and Notting Hill more times than one should probably admit in any public forum. I’m actually, at this moment, imagining having afternoon tea with my man crush while planning a girlie night. But I digress… Having been the lone woman standing and as women are a rather significant portion of our population, it seems reasonable to me that having two as programmers could only be good thing.

And as a friend pointed out to me today, gay-friendly fare has all but disappeared from your regular programming (i.e “Hey Homo” and “Celluloid Handbag”). And your programming staff is just so very white. And so very male.

I love you, Alamo Drafthouse. I’m always on the edge of my seat to see what you are going to bring to us next. I’m proud that you are part of Austin. I think you lead the way in so many different avenues and so I’d like to see your programming staff reflect that leadership by embracing the diversity of this wonderful city.

Keep being awesome.

Fan for life,

Jessica Luther


One thought on “An Open Letter to the Alamo Drafthouse

  1. Pingback: Austin writer asks Alamo Drafthouse to diversify its programming (and programmers) | ATX Post

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