Alamo Drafthouse Crystal City (DC)

Source: Bryce Bernier

Alamo Drafthouse Crystal City (DC)

In a major development in the US exhibition landscape, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) has acquired Alamo Drafthouse Cinema for an undisclosed sum.

The news follows reports in spring that the exhibitor had been exploring a sale and will see SPE manage the 35-strong dine-in theatre chain under a newly established division, Sony Pictures Experiences.

Alamo Drafthouse’s Michael Kustermann will remain CEO of the chain and becomes head of Sony Pictures Experiences, reporting to Ravi Ahuja, president and COO of SPE.

Alamo Drafthouse will continue to operate all its cinemas across 25 metro areas under the Alamo Drafthouse brand, as well as Fantastic Fest, which is included in the deal.

The company’s headquarters will remain in Austin, Texas. Alamo will maintain and ongoing support with 15 franchisees. Earlier this week it emerged that five in North Texas and one in Minnesota are closing down.

It is understood Tim League will remain an advisor. League and Karrie League founded Alamo Drafthouse as a single-screen venue in 1997 and grew it into a circuit renowned for its vibrant fan-oriented culture and ban on talking and texting during screenings.

In 2021 amid the pandemic the company sold its assets to Altamont Capital Partners, Fortress Investment Group, League and other investors and emerged from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy process as other operators were forced to shut their doors.

According to the parties on Wednesday morning, Alamo Drafthouse has become North America’s seventh largest theatre chain, releases more films each year than any other circuit, receives more than 10million cinema-goers annually, and has four million loyalty members. Last year, it saw a 30% jump in box office revenue over 2022.

Ahuja noted SPE’s Crunchyroll business aligned with Alamo audiences and said the chain would continue to welcome “content from all studios and distributors”.

Tom Rothman, chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Motion Picture Group, said: “Alamo Drafthouse has always held the craft of filmmaking and the theatrical experience in high esteem, which are fundamental shared values between our companies.”

SPE acquired Alamo Drafthouse from Altamont Capital Partners, Fortress Investment Group and League. Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC acted as exclusive financial advisor to Alamo Drafthouse in the transaction.