NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Denton’s Alamo Drafthouse goes dark, but sequel is possible

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Denton closed after the franchise partner and its affiliates announced bankruptcy on Thursday morning.
Juan Betancourt
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Denton closed after the franchise partner and its affiliates announced bankruptcy on Thursday morning.

Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Denton closed after the franchise partner and its affiliates announced they’re filing for bankruptcy Thursday morning.

Two Is One, One Is None LLC, the company that franchised the theaters, said it was closing its Dallas-Fort Worth cinemas because ticket sales hadn’t rebounded after the COVID-19 pandemic and the writers and actors guild strikes.

The Denton location, at 3220 Town Center Trail in Rayzor Ranch Town Center, opened in 2018 and was the third Alamo Drafthouse to open in the North Texas area. A note posted on the doors of the Denton location confirmed the closure on Thursday.

“Industry-wide guest counts have not rebounded even to pre-COVID levels, and coupled with the 100-plus days of the Writers’ and Actors’ strikes, industry-wide economic performance was severely down in the fourth quarter of 2023 and in the first quarter of 2024,” Two Is One said in a news release. “In fact, the first quarter of 2024 has been the worst-performing quarter in movie-going history.”

Two Is One also cited franchise fees and contractural obligations. The franchisee has closed all five Alamo Drafthouse locations in North Texas, including in Richardson, Las Colinas, Lake Highlands and Dallas, as well as one cinema in Minnesota.

In its release, the company claimed that an attempt was made to contact all 600-plus employees before the announcement and the closures.

“We are deeply saddened to find it necessary to take this step,” Two Is One said in the release. “We are grateful to all our employees who put in the work, day in and day out to produce a special movie-going experience and to our many loyal customers for whom it was a pleasure to provide such a special experience.”

A spokesperson at Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse said in a statement that the closure of these locations may not be the end of Alamo Drafthouse in North Texas.

“We are heartbroken for the franchisee’s teammates and the local film communities, however, we are working as quickly as possible to get Alamo Drafthouse Cinema back up and running in these cities,” the spokesperson said, according to a report by KERA. “All other Alamo Drafthouse locations are operating as normal, with continued expansion plans across the country.”

Denton Record-Chronicle film critic Preston Barta said Alamo was the only theater screening independent films in the area, and it hosted events regularly.

“They have the typical heavy-hitter kind of films that they play, and they also did indie films — the kind of films that I would have to drive an hour to see in Dallas, but it was here in our backyard,” Barta said.

Barta said his film critic friends were also shocked about the unexpected closure. He also said he knows people who worked at Alamo Drafthouse.

“It was awful that the employees had no idea that it was coming,” Barta said. “In the PR release, it says an attempt was made. I don’t know exactly what that means, but I know from some people who worked there that they did not get their paychecks.”

As the franchise cited low ticket sales as a factor in the closure, Barta said there hasn’t been a movie since Oppenheimer and Barbie that has felt like a big event, making people excited to go to a theater.

He also noted that the state of moviegoing is changing because of streaming platforms.

“How we consume media is very different these days,” Barta said. “ And the amount of media that’s put out there is changing.”

Denton resident Denny Taylor, who co-hosts a podcast called Movies for When, said he was gutted to find out Alamo Drafthouse had shut its doors.

“Going to the movie somewhere other than Alamo is worse than watching it at home,” Taylor said. “... Alamo was the only place that I could go and, like, actually have fun watching a movie like it’s intended.”

One of Taylor’s favorite memories is doing a podcast live at the Denton theater in 2022.

“We did a live show at Alamo Dratfhouse. It was like a crazy cool experience,” Taylor said. “Like one of the best nights of my life, honestly — we had a real blast there, and that was really special to me.”

He said the closure affects film fans who want to enjoy cinema properly.

“I kind of feel like Alamo was turning into the equivalent of a record store, so to speak,” Taylor said. “It was turning into something that was much more for hardcore [moviegoers], not so much about seeing a Marvel movie. … It was so much more about experiencing a true love for movies from a totally nerdy perspective.”