Fantastic Fest Super-Secret Screening at the Alamo Ritz


Evidently not content with simply running a wildly successful third iteration of Austin's premiere festival for geeks, Tim League and company held an invite-only double-secret probation screening of End of the Line at the new Alamo Drafthouse Ritz location on Monday night. Visiting filmmakers and other Alamo staff and supporters were shuttled to the unfinished theater on 6th Street, where beer, sandwiches, and a jury-rigged "Rolling Roadshow" style screening setup awaited them. League welcomed visitors with a brief tour of the facilities and let drop a few tidbits I hadn't heard before. Some of this was dropped in various blog entries earlier in the year but if you weren't paying attention, here they are again:

  • The actual completion date of the two-screen venue is uncertain but they hope to have it done in time for Halloween this year.
  • Both theaters (one 180-seat room and another, under-100 seat room) have stadium seating.
  • Every inch of extra space was carefully plotted out to allow for the stadium seating -- the restrooms are underneath the larger theater, and the beer cooler is behind that. The kitchen is towards the front of the building on the ground floor and food will be shuttled up various sets of stairs to be served in the theaters.
  • That kitchen occupies the space where Hoek's Pizza used to be, and the demise of Hoek's was the one dark spot in the otherwise great news surrounding the Drafthouse's move to the Ritz location. Fortunately they'll be reopening the window as an Alamo "pizza n' goodies" window to cater to the late night 6th Street crowds with the munchies. Is it too much to hope that they'll add slices to their culinary repetoire?
  • Handicap access and seating will be at the rear of each theater instead of the front. To my mind that's a better deal for those moviegoers sporting wheels, but maybe there are those who enjoy sitting front and center at every screening.

The screening itself was enjoyed by all, though perhaps not so much as the pre-show entertainment, during which League made multiple attempts to christen the theater with a bottle of champagne. Though eventually successful at christening the Ritz as "awesome," I understand that some small bit of flying glass did end up in an attendee's finger. Thus the Alamo Ritz's very first screening was also its very first occasion for moviegoer first aid. And though it was quite the honor to be there for a bit of history, I'm looking forward to seeing those rooms finished with plush seats and carpeted floors. It's going to be every bit as awesome as you expect.

(Pictures forthcoming.)