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SBJ Editor Eric Olson, right, interviews Alamo Drafthouse Cinema owner John Martin for the business journal’s 12 People series.SBJ photo by WES HAMILTON
SBJ Editor Eric Olson, right, interviews Alamo Drafthouse Cinema owner John Martin for the business journal’s 12 People series.

SBJ photo by WES HAMILTON

Alamo Drafthouse to open next month

Posted online
A year to the day after Wehrenberg Theatres announced plans to close its Campbell 16 Cine, the owner of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema this morning revealed the opening date for its Springfield movie house at the 4005 South Ave. property.

“For the first time I can say publicly, it will be the second week of June,” Alamo Drafthouse owner John Martin said during Springfield Business Journal’s 12 People You Need to Know live interview series. “The first set of films will be the traditional summer blockbusters.”

Martin said the theater would launch with 190 employees showing films including “Alien: Covenant” and “Transformers: The Last Knight.”

The employee count, through attrition, will drop to around 175, above the 150 jobs the company expected to create when it announced a 14-screen Springfield theater last year.

First scheduled to open in February, construction challenges pushed the opening date back to the spring and finally into June.

Martin said workers on the 55,000-square-foot theater — the largest in the company’s 27-cinema chain after adding a second Denver location this month — encountered issues such as outdated wiring and water damage.

“The low voltage wiring throughout the entire building was not up to code. It’s amazing that it was still in there. We had to remediate. We had to take out all the wiring. That alone cost us two weeks,” Martin said, noting repairing old and new rain damage took another two weeks to fix.

Then there’s a unique challenge in Springfield with an ordinance on the books since April 2011.

Under the rule, Springfield theaters are not allowed to sell alcohol if ticket sales to those under 21 exceed 25 percent of overall sales.

To contend with Springfield’s ordinance regarding alcohol in theaters, Martin said an existing Alamo Drafthouse policy to only allow minors in with an adult would help keep its sales below the 25 percent mark for minors required under city code. Overall, he expects the Springfield theater’s sales to be in the tens of millions.

“We’re proud of that,” he said of the sales target.

When it opens, the Springfield Alamo will include two microcinemas for private viewing events for up to 20 people, food served directly to filmgoers at their seats, and an in-house restaurant called The Backlot apart from movie showings.

Alamo joins Queen City theater offerings AMC Springfield 11, Regal College Station Stadium 14, Moxie Cinema and Premiere Palace. The Palace theater is scheduled to close next month, with Life360 Church contracted to reschedule one of its campuses to the property, according to the Springfield News-Leader. Wehrenberg Theatres’ Campbell 16 closed in July 2016.

“What Alamo brings to Springfield is something that AMC and Regal don’t have. We all show movies, but we’re much more than that,” Martin said. “The secret of Alamo is that it’s a high-volume restaurant that shows movies.”

The Springfield Alamo also will launch with 48 beers on tap, including local craft selections, and food with Springfield flair. Of the cinema’s menu, 20 percent is developed with local purveyors. That includes Alamo’s take on Springfield-style cashew chicken, a milkshake in partnership with Askinosie Chocolate and an Alamo blend of coffee made by the Mudhouse.

“I had no idea what to expect from Springfield,” Martin said. “When I got here, I was amazed by the openness of the community and just the good nature and the progressiveness.”

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