What some consider to be the nation's best-run movie theater chain has signed a letter of intent to open an eight-screen multiplex in downtown L.A. The plan is for a 30,000 square-foot complex near the corner of Fourth and Main Street in the city's Historic Core, reports the Downtown News. Developer Saeed Farkhondehpour says he expects the theater to open in 18 months. Austin-based Alamo Drafthouse has been talking for years about opening in L.A., but expansion has proven to be easier in other cities. Part of it is simple geography (it'll be a challenge to get Westsiders to trudge downtown to see a film) and part of it is intense competition from Arclight, Landmark, AMC, and the nearby Regal multiplex at L.A. Live. From a 2012 LAT interview with Alamo CEO Tim League:
"Our only qualification for opening a movie theater in the first place was that we were movie nerds and loved movies,'' League said. "We felt that one of the things that was missing from the cinema experience was any sense of personality or love of the movies. It was more of a commodity. We set out to become a haven for movie lovers." That meant banning advertising from screenings, inviting filmmakers to talk about their movies and adopting a famously strict no-talking policy. "We were really vigilant about throwing people out," League said. The Alamo did something else that was unheard-of: It allowed patrons to order beer, pizza and sandwiches from their seats, one of the first theaters in the country to do so. (The theaters also host special food nights, with chefs preparing special dishes inspired by scenes in movies.) League also programmed a mix of films, including slasher movies and art house fare, and offered themed nights with names like "Terror Tuesday" and "Weird Wednesday." He created Fantastic Fest, an annual film festival offering eight days of offbeat cinema from independents, international filmmakers and major Hollywood studios.