Thursday, January 03, 2008

Alamo Drafthouse + AMC Loews Cityplace = East Village Dallas?

Robert Wilonsky over at Village Voice property The Dallas Observer has been all over the latest Haskell Avenue news regarding the shutting down of AMC Loews Cityplace 14 next week. Kudos to the erstwhile Roger Ebert stand-in (who needs A.O. Scott anyway!) for reporting on the closing of the crime-plagued megaplex. Gang-banging, purse-snatching and carjacking, while all memorable events, do not make for a pleasant movie-going experience. The last movie I saw there must have been 5 years ago.

When Wilonsky broke the news yesterday about the closing, Austin's Alamo Drafthouse franchise came to mind. Would they snap up the chance to revamp an urban megaplex? The Alamo Drafthouse ownership group looked into the theater property at Casa Linda back in 2006. The Drafthouse has the reputation for being a real movie-lovers operation. They host all kinds of premieres, film fests, & SXSW events. Wouldn't it be nice if Dallas got a little "Keep Austin Weird" and it meant something more substantial than another crappy cheese steak sandwich shop or a Thunderclouds Subs?

Turns out that there are already plans for the location (again reported by the vigilant Wilonsky) in the familiar shape of the hoity-toity West Village. A mixed-use development with "retail & upper-level residential" will be replacing Shittyplace upon City Plan commission approval. Sound familiar? Mockingbird Station, Park Lane Place anyone? I doubt that plan will include an Alamo Drafthouse. But you can be sure that there will be plenty of valet parking.

Pablo's Point got some attention from the Studio Movie Grill folks when we last broached this topic. Driving up Central Expressway towards Forest, I happened to notice that the old Royal Lane Albertsons is being converted into an 8-screen "boutiqued" cinema house courtesy of Tony Romo's favorite Studio Movie Grill in early February. Yes Dallasites, you will soon be watching Indiana Jones break out the movie mojo while sipping on a cold Studio Grandé Blue Margarita.

Went to see "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story" at Northpark 15 over the holidays. For $10 I laughed 3 times and sat through 35 minutes of commercials. I'd like to think that the marketplace (DVD's, home theater sets, ageing Gen Xers) will force the AMC's of the world to offer a little more than their antiseptic movie house product. Don't get me wrong, I'm as content as the next guy to see a movie theater again
at Northpark. But there will be plenty of room for competitors like the Studio Movie Grill. And someone tell me soon that the Alamo Drafthouse is looking at a property in Dallas.