If you’re among the lucky movie lovers in this country, you live near an Alamo Drafthouse theater and have gotten to experience the chain’s many excellent attributes, from the strict no-talking/texting policy to the themed bar in each location, the selection of in-house movie merch, the ad-free pre-movie presentations, and the superior in-theater dining menu (I would happily eat that truffle popcorn every day of my life. Seriously.).
This week, the chain has opened its newest, long-awaited location in lower Manhattan, and we got the chance to take a behind-the-scenes tour!
Located in the lower levels of a large, modern building in the Financial District, the Manhattan location is one of the largest Alamo Drafthouse locations in the country, tying for the highest number of screens (14 — which is double the number in its other NYC location in Downtown Brooklyn).
Movie-goers can choose to enter through the upper or lower lobby. If you already have your tickets and are rushing to make your showtime, you’ll want to head to the lower lobby (but pause for a second to enjoy the massive collection of King Kong posters that cover the walls), as this is the level where all of the theaters are located. But if you have some time to kill before or after your movie, I certainly recommend heading upstairs, where you’ll find the box office desk and this location’s themed bar: The Press Room.
If you are a movie nerd — especially of the vintage/classic movie persuasion — then this bar is a must-see. This bar actually has an incredibly interesting backstory that you can learn about in the video below. The Press Room houses a mere fraction of a 60,000-piece collection of vintage newspaper movie advertisement blocks. Two friends discovered and purchased this one-of-a-kind collection in the late ’90s at an antique shop in Omaha, Nebraska, and it later became the subject of a short documentary.
This new bar is decorated with these blocks, commemorates their history, and even puts them to good use — There is a functional printing press in the center of the room! Occasionally, some lucky moviegoers will be treated to a free print from the press that corresponds with the movie they are seeing, while other prints and merchandise featuring the advertisements are always available to purchase.
On that note, in addition to The Press Room, the upstairs level also has an expansive selection of merchandise available to shop. This includes a selection of Alamo Drafthouse apparel and accessories, alongside games, puzzles, tiki mugs, and other items from Mondo, Alamo’s merchandise brand. There is also a wide selection of the aforementioned, location-specific merch that’s inspired by The Press Room and the expansive printing plate collection. Shoppers can snag playing cards, puzzles, posters, cards, and more featuring collages of these classic movie images.
I know that’s a lot of information about a movie theater… without actually getting to the theater part! But don’t worry, I got to check out one of the theaters downstairs, too, and there are some less flashy but equally appreciated features. First off, all of the seats recline with the press of a button for maximum comfort.
But the coolest new feature is a second button that you’ll find at your seat, which alerts the waitstaff that you have a food or drink order ready for them to take! For those who have never visited an Alamo Drafthouse location: You are provided with paper cards and a pencil that you use to write out your order, then you place the paper card upright at your table. This new button streamlines the current system at other Alamo Drafthouse locations, where the waitstaff simply keep their eyes peeled for new orders.
Overall, I was impressed by the new Alamo Drafthouse location, and I’m excited to have even more moviegoing options — Especially given Alamo Drafthouses’ variety of specialty movie content, from holiday screenings to “Guest Select” screenings where movie directors curate a selection of movies that inspired them.
To learn more about the new Alamo Drafthouse Lower Manhattan location or to get tickets, head to alamodrafthouse.com.