Gleeful film buffs and indie filmmakers came together Thursday for the grand-opening bash for Alamo Drafthouse’s new theater in downtown Los Angeles’ the Bloc shopping center.
Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA, HBO’s “Silicon Valley” cast members Thomas Middleditch and Martin Starr, TBS’ “The Detour” star Natalie Zea and film critic Leonard Maltin were at the party for the Austin, Texas-based movie-house chain’s first L.A. theater, as were Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews, writers-executive producers of the upcoming Netflix series “The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance.”
“Alamo Drafthouse makes moviegoing fun,” Maltin said. “I was raised on that principle. They believe in superb presentation [and] showmanship, and that is part of the fun.”
Added Harry Medved, spokesman for movie-ticketing website Fandango, which is partnering with the Drafthouse, “It’s a dream come true for local movie buffs and promises to be a major destination for the film industry.
“Angelenos used to travel far to get a taste of that unique Drafthouse experience and eclectic programming, and so it’s exciting to finally have one in our own backyard,” Medved said. “We’ve been talking to Alamo about building an L.A. presence for more than a decade. To see it finally coming to fruition is truly gratifying.”
Starr, who can also be seen in “Spiderman: Far From Home,” has known Drafthouse founder Tim League for years.
“Tim does a wonderful thing for cinema that I don’t think is replicated anywhere else,” he said. “It’s incredible to have witnessed how this company has grown and see the people they have had the opportunity to affect. It all came out of a real pure desire to watch, love and share movies.”
Drafthouse now has 40 theaters across the U.S., including the first ones in Austin, Texas. “I love being able to support indie movies from the truly brilliant storytellers that continue to come along,” said League, who also has the film distribution company Drafthouse Films.
On the walls of the new venue are a myriad of vintage film posters from League’s always-growing collection. “They say I start more theaters just so I have a place to hang my posters!” he said jokingly.
One poster he said he’s particularly fond of is the one for 1983’s “Yor, the Hunter From the Future,” although it needed a bit of editing before it was hung.
“I buy these posters online as little tiny JPGs. I didn’t realize until talking to the guy who mounts and frames them for us that the 18-inch woman is topless,” League said. “As he is an artist, thankfully he was able to post a nice bikini top on her so that she could be more family-friendly.”
“This sorta feels like a bar mitzvah!” said Adam Egypt Mortimer, whose horror film “Daniel Isn’t Real” premiered at a Drafthouse during South by Southwest in Austin. “I walked to the bar to get one of these tasty drinks and have run into so many creative people I know here.”
Mortimer said he was thrilled to see a giant display of the scary Grady twins from Stanley Kubrick’s film “The Shining” at the theater. “I love how they are blessing us with this horrific invitation to come and see movies here,” he said.
Although Drafthouse mostly shows current movies, veteran screenwriter-producer Larry Karaszewski said he loves that Drafthouse also appreciates film revivals and that League and his employees are interested in the history of cinema. “I think this is exactly what L.A. needs right now,” he said. “I came here over the weekend to watch Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Once Upon a Time in ... Hollywood’ and spent 10 minutes in the hallways taking photos of everything here.”
Karaszewski’s latest film, “Dolemite Is My Name,” is premiering at the Toronto Film Festival next month.
During the downtown party, movie-themed tiki cocktails with titles such as Naked in New York, the Harder They Fall and L.A. Confidential were served. There were activations to experience as well, including a scavenger hunt for which guests could collect a set of collectible lapel pins as prizes; a balloon artist; and a spot for face paint, nail art, glitter and airbrush tattoos.
Attendees could also participate in Chaos Karaoke, which was co-hosted by producer John Bernstein. A highlight was when Kestrin Pantera, who also created and operates the RVIP karaoke lounge, sang Chicago’s “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.” Pantera, an indie filmmaker, recently directed “Mother’s Little Helpers,” which premiered at South by Southwest and Outfest.
Comedians Gavin Matts, Ayo Edebiri, Lizzy Cooperman, Neil Hamburger, Todd Glass and Open Mike Eagle also performed.