Lovers of beer, genre films and dine-in movie theaters, the long-awaited Alamo Drafthouse Downtown Brooklyn has finally arrived.
The Texas-based chain’s 25th location sits on the fourth and fifth floors of Downtown Brooklyn’s City Point mall (445 Gold St.), with seven screening rooms ranging from 40 to 190 seats. Over five years in the making, the theater is both a serious place for movies and one that shows “Jason Takes Manhattan,” while serving a larger selection of craft beers than your local bar.
We’ve got your guide to everything you need to know about Brooklyn’s new dine-in theater:
1. Every ticket costs $14.50, and seats are assigned when you buy them. The high-back chairs are well padded, and don’t worry if you end up “having” to sit in the front row — they’re not shoved up as close to the screen as most theaters, and recline electronically to prevent neck strain.
2. Six of the theater’s seven screens will be devoted to new releases. They’ll be split evenly between blockbusters and indie films. The seventh theater will host repertory screenings, as well as smaller films that deserve a spotlight, because your TV will never be the best way to watch movies.
3. Expect special guests and unique programs. The theater has lured Kevin Bacon to a Tremors screening, and Star Wars Episode VIII director Rian Johnson did live commentary for his film Looper. Brooklyn’s theater has already lined up guest appearances by Melanie Lynskey for a screening of her trippy 1994 thriller with Kate Winslet, Heavenly Creatures, and a regular series called Shouting at the Screen co-hosted by comedian Wyatt Cenac that explores notorious blaxploitation movies with live commentary and drinking games.
4. Even their decor is film nerd chic. Every Alamo Drafthouse location has carpet from The Shining. Brooklyn welcomes visitors with a lobby photo op where you can pretend to be King Kong clinging to the Empire State Building, its wallpaper was custom made with an abstract pattern of projector lenses, and old posters of Turkey’s notorious knockoffs of Hollywood films hang everywhere.
5. You’ll want to get to your screening early. Alamo is famous for its preview features with interviews and behind-the-scenes looks.
6. The bar is no ordinary bar. House of Wax, the theater’s bar, doubles as a museum of realistic wax figures from celebrity busts to medical oddities. These antiques from the 1870s used to travel in shows that served as the same sort of window onto the world that movies offer now for both entertainment and education. You don’t even need to buy a movie ticket to get into House of Wax.
Bar manager Vincent Favella (Atlantic Grill, Hearth) created a menu rooted in the era when cocktails were invented, around the late 1800s:
Anatomicals: Drinks directly inspired by some of the wax figures
Pathologicals: The classics with slight variations
Geographical: Some of the first cocktails made in the late 1800s, but swapping out the ingredients modern bartenders no longer use
The list will change with the seasons, around every three months.
7. The crazy beer selection. House of Wax has 48 beers on tap, all of them from New York brewers. This is in addition to another 48 taps in the upstairs kitchen, which will be served in the theaters. The beers downstairs will be special releases, small batches and seasonal, and they can be taken into the theater.
8. House of Wax also has a stage for live entertainment ranging from bands to vaudeville, trivia and competitive karaoke.
9. Harry Potter fans, hang onto your wands. Just as King’s Cross has a hidden Platform 9¾ for the Hogwarts Express, the Alamo has a secret Floor 4½ accessible only by the elevator down a winding hallways off the lobby. It takes you to the Alamo’s outdoor terrace, which will host private events and can be rented out.
10. Silence is golden. Alamo Drafthouse has a notoriously strict no texting/talking policy: You get one pass, then you’ll be asked to leave without a refund. Just wait until you see the pre-screening PSA for how seriously they take keeping theaters a sacred space.
11. The head film geek in charge of programming is Cristina Cacioppo, who describes the Alamo’s approach as: “We’re all about the lowbrow and we’re all about the highbrow — and we try to avoid the middlebrow.”
That means tons of themed nights well beyond Halloween, from well-loved weekly genre fests like Terror Tuesday to Girlie Night (sample feature: Mean Girls) and its “punk rock sister” Cherry Bomb, a new series celebrating bad girls. The theater is also winking at itself with a New in Town series of films like Coming to America and Babe: Pig in the City.
If there’s a common thread to the films you can expect at the Alamo, it’s what Cacioppo herself hopes for when going to the movies: “I like to be surprised at the movies.”
12. Local producers are emphasized beyond the bar, too. Executive chef Fernando Marulanda sources many of his ingredients from farms in upstate New York, Long Island and New Jersey to make his menu of familiar favorites like Alamo’s famous queso, fresh baked cookies and even a tofu and quinoa bowl from scratch in the upstairs kitchen.
13. You can order food and drinks right to your seat before or during the movie. Just fill out a card with your order, place the card in the slot at the top of your table (every couple of chairs shares one non-folding surface), and an eagle-eyed staffer will collect it silently. There’s a service aisle in front of each row that’s about a foot lower than the seats to minimize line of sight issues.
14. Alamo founder/CEO Tim League’s philosophy is “the movie is king.” Everything from the no talk/text policy to service is guided by that. One extra step: For movies where the audience would be particularly sensitive to interruptions — say, the upcoming Star Wars: Rogue One — staff coordinate their drop-offs using the RunPee app, which shows when a film has non-crucial moments.
“I think what people are really surprised about when they come here for the first time is how respectful we are towards the moviegoing experience,” he says. “Great food, great drink and silent service, that kind of rounds out what we do.”