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Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League steps aside as CEO of the maverick theater chain

Tim League
Tim League, founder of Alamo Drafthouse.
(Annie Ray)

Tim League, the founder of quirky movie theater chain Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is stepping aside as its chief executive, the company said Thursday.

League, who founded the Austin, Texas-based exhibitor in 1997 with his wife Karrie, said he started looking for a replacement CEO six months ago so he could focus on the creative aspects of the business, including the eclectic programming for which Alamo Drafthouse is known.

Alamo Drafthouse named United Planet Fitness Partners President Shelli Taylor as its new chief, effective Friday. League will become executive chairman of the company, where he will focus on marketing and creative initiatives for the theater circuit, as well as its sister company, pop culture collectibles firm Mondo, and the genre film festival Fantastic Fest.

Taylor, who has also held roles at Walt Disney Co. and Starbucks, will be tasked with growing the theater company once business is able to resume. The appointment comes at a time when all of Alamo’s cinemas are closed and its employees are furloughed during the coronavirus outbreak. An Alamo spokesman said Taylor’s salary will be deferred during the closures.

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“Alamo Drafthouse is the only leadership role I’ve ever known,” League said in a statement. “I am excited to partner with her to rise from the current challenges that our industry faces and continue to drive towards our company vision, to be the best damn cinema that has ever or will ever exist.”

Alamo Drafthouse operates 41 locations and last year opened its long-awaited downtown Los Angeles theater. The chain is known for its dine-in auditoriums, craft beer and cinephile-centric special screenings, such as its Terror Tuesday and Weird Wednesday events. The company is also famous for its strict no-talking and no-texting policies.

League’s tenure as CEO was not without its blemishes. The company was sharply criticized in 2017 for its muddled response to sexual harassment allegations against the editor of its film journalism website Birth.Movies.Death. League eventually apologized for his handling of the situation.

It’s unclear when Alamo Drafthouse will reopen its theaters. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott this week declared movie theaters would be allowed to resume as early as Friday. But Alamo Drafthouse said it needed more time to enact new safety procedures and retrain employees. "“This is something we cannot and will not do casually or quickly,” the company said.


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