“My Time of Fear Is Over”: How to Run a Small Theater Chain Now

Tim League
Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for Kodak
Matthew Belloni
August 1, 2021

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’d like to use this space to occasionally interview industry people who are doing innovative or interesting things and whose insights might help readers. (Previous chats with Casey Wasserman and Aaron Gilbert are here and here.)

I don’t know Tim League, founder of the 41-location Alamo Drafthouse chain, but I’ve always admired the company as an innovator in an exhibition business often criticized for its lack of innovation. Premium food and drinks, no pre-show ads, fan-centric revivals—Alamo champions the amenities that I think will become crucial as theaters become a bespoke experience. The company filed for pandemic-induced bankruptcy in February and is taking on the challenges with a new ownership structure (Fortress, Altamont Capital Partners, and League), a new C.E.O. in Shelli Taylor, and a determination to survive a tough business. Our chat below is edited and condensed …