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July 09, 2007

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LH Resident/Drafthouse Fan

This is great to (finally, officially) hear. I am particularly excited to hear that they are seeking to land a cinema eatery. Specifically, Dallas NEEDS an Alamo Drafthouse here! A Studio Movie Grill or Movie Tavern would be nice....but a Drafthouse here would be optimal. While they all might sound like the same concept, you really can't appreciate how unique the Drafthouse is until you experience it (i.e., it's not just the food with the movie that is great, but also their unique movie programming that is not just the same old stuff, as well as how they present the movies/pre-show experience). This would certainly help to bloster making the LHTC a destination for people who might not otherwise think to travel to the area to shop/spend. If any Prescott representatives read this - PLEASE do us all a huge favor and do what you can to try to make this happen. Check it out for yourselves and you will see!

Jeff Siegel

Trader Joe's is not coming here. Let's get that settled right now. Aalso, for anyone interested in how great real estate minds work, please see our discussion on the East Dallas Back Talk about the renovation at Casa Linda: http://backtalkeastdallas.typepad.com/back_talk/2007/06/turn_on_the_cas.html

Bill Kennedy

Jeff... I will take it that you mean Trader Joe's is not coming to LHTC. On that I agree. Until there are retail beer and wine sales in this area, you will never see TJ's in an LHTC.

However, we will see TJ's in Dallas within the next couple of years. I bet my bottom dollar on it. With parent company Aldi building a Texas distribution center in north Texas, there will be TJ's following close behind. It's their M.O.

Bill Kennedy

As for Alamo Draft House, that would be awesome!!! My wife books their theaters in Austin and they are a class act all the way.

Michael Mosteller

I just want to echo the earlier comments that an Alamo Drafthouse would be perfect for the LHTC. Alamo is a great company that delivers a superior product. They actually make it fun to go to the movies again. I go to the Studio Movie Grill some but it in no way compares to how great the Alamo Drafthouse is. Their food is superior to other cinema eateries and their wine (ahem, Mr. Siegel) and beer selection are top notch.

However, their greatest strength is the movie experience they give you which is unparalled. They do offbeat programming and theme nights like showing Godfather on Father's Day, Mommie Dearest on Mother's Day and have a group of comedians who sit around lampooning bad movies a la Mystery Science Theater 3000. They make showing up early fun with their preshow entertainment. It isn't just going to a cinema to watch a bunch of ads for local businesses or Coke products. They play movie trailers for old campy movies and shows or clips of the actor or actress whose movie you are going to see. You don't just sit around waiting for the movie to start or to get your order. They get into new releases with fun premieres like having a car eating monster truck brought to one of their theaters for the Transformers movie premiere, bi-planes for the premiere of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and Mexican Luchadors in a wrestling match before Nacho Libre. They play tons of classic movies at hours where people can actually go see them and not just at midnight like theaters do here. They also do great theme dinners like a full course feast for Lord of the Rings where each time the Hobbits eat, they feed you something similiar. They were named the best theater in America in 2005 by Entertainment Weekly. I constantly travel down to Austin to go to some of their great events. Here are some more of the accolades for the Alamo Drafthouse company:
“13th best thing to do in Texas” by TEXAS MONTHLY
“Best Theatre in Austin” by AUSTIN CHRONICLE
“Best Theatre in San Antonio” by SAN ANTONIO CURRENT
“Best Theatre in Houston” by HOUSTON CHRONICLE

If Prescott gets an Alamo Drafthouse in the center, they will be adding a destination that brings people from other neighborhoods, like me, to Lake Highlands. I was crushed when we lost our chance at an Alamo Drafthouse here in Casa Linda. I hope Prescott takes a real long look at getting Alamo in there. They won't regret it.

Bill, just curious, what do you mean by "my wife books their theaters in Austin"? Does she book the movies for them or handle getting some of the guests for the events?

Bill Kennedy

Michael... my wife works for the largest independant theater booking service in the U.S. It's here in Dallas. They schedule Alamo with all their movies.

The movie food chain works this way:
Studio (i.e. Paramount, Disney, Fox) --- Distribution company (Paramount Dist., New Line, Fox Dist.) --- booking company (AMC Theater booking, Century Theater booking, her company) --- theaters (AMC, Century, regional & small independant chains & local screens)

Jeff Siegel

No Trader Joe's, even if there were liquor sales. First, the company is focusing on the East Coast, and second, it is not ready to tussle with Whole Foods and Central Market in this area. HEB/Central Market is a very scary company if you are one of their competitors. What we might see, again complicated by not having liquor sales, a Central Market knockoff called Market Street, owned by United Grocery of Lubbock.

Re Alamo: I think the developer and residents agree that it would be a good fit. But does the company think so? It backed out of a deal to take over the old Casa Linda theater. The town center site isn't the same thing (new construction vs. renovation), but presents many of the same issues that Casa Linda did. Look where Alamo puts theaters -- do they have anything in common with the town center site?

LH Resident/Drafthouse Fan

Jeff, with respect to the Alamo and Casa Linda, my impression/understanding was that extensive costs (and who was to pay for these costs) to renovate the theater was a major factor in the deal falling apart.

As to having anything in common with the town center site, I assume you are referencing that they have historically renovated older, pre-existing theaters. However, they are in the process of opening a brand new theater (in a new development) in Rio Grande Valley. See the following link:

http://www.alamodrafthouse-trenton.wb.gs/

I believe there may be a least one other Alamo that is also a new build (and which is also one of their more recent theaters). By the way, click the "Alamo Buzz" link to see more gushing praise of the Alamo theaters. As to having anything in common with the town center, I absolutely believe they would be a great fit for the center. As I referenced in my original comment, while Dallas may have Studio Movie Grills and Movie Taverns (in the metroplex), in my opinion, they really pale in comparison to the Alamo. While they all have the food (though I think Alamo's food is better) and drink, the actual "experience" and atmosphere that you get going to the Alamo (with their alternative programming, pre-shows, tie-ins and theme events that Michael referenced earlier) are something that Studio Movie Grill and Movie Taverns don't replicate (in fact, they don't even attempt these). I also make my way down to Austin to go to Alamo events (note I used events, not just "movies") quite often and know of several Dallasites that do the same. As crazy as that sounds (to any Prescott folks who might read this), think how much Dallas/metroplex traffic it could bring in. It may sound strange, but the Alamos don't just have causual customers, they have loyal devotees. The downtown Austin location just shut down for the summer (as they are in the process of moving to a new location) and there are numerous articles and even a blog-a-thon that was set up for people to write in with all of their "Downtown Alamo Drafthouse" memories (!). See the link:

http://www.slackerwood.com/cms/alamo_blogathon.html

It would be great to have something (at least a small fraction) as unique here in Dallas and in Lake Highlands.

Bill Kennedy

According to my wife, one of the reasons Alamo bailed on Casa Linda is what Rick mentioned above -- remediation and construction costs. Also, Alamo has built at least 2 new theaters, so that's not an issue for LHTC, per se.

She knows the Studio Movie Grill family-owners very well and though she has not talked to them, she "definitely thinks" they would look at LHTC. Build vs remodel is a wash with respect to whether a building is there already since the build-out is so extensive and major. It's not exactly easy to retrofit kitchens and bars, etc. into a old theater. It can be a lot easier, and a lot more energy efficient, with a clean slate.

What is also an issue is first-run movie rights and art house locations. Alamo is an art house and Angelika is awfully close to LHTC. Doesn't matter if the execution concept is not exactly the same; they show similar stuff to simialr target audiences. So, there's that demographic-money issue.

With respect to movie bar-grill screens, there are first-run movie rights issues, because they show first-run movies. As does Northpark, mere minutes away. Deosn't matter if you have the land and the money and put up a theater... can you get product?! Not if you are withing XX miles of another location. But those rules can change. For the most part, they are relaxing them for bar-grill types because they draw completely different demographics than a typical mega-multi-screen operation. Thus, cannibalizing your own product (i.e. the film) a few miles away becomes a non-issue.

So, it's a lot more involved than "it would be great."

Michael Davis

Alamo sounds cool.

I went to the new SMG in Arlington just after it first opened and it was a big disappointment. It's a big drop below the ones in Plano and Prestonwood. It seemed like they crowded everything in just to make money. The chairs were also pretty cheap.

I'd be curious to know why they down-scaled for that location.

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