State's first Alamo Drafthouse Cinema opens in Woodbury
Like texting or talking during movies? A fan of crinkly candy wrappers? Can't ever make it to the theater on time?
If so, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is not for you. But if you're someone who likes a sophisticated moviegoing experience, the new theater in Woodbury Lakes Shopping Center could ruin all others for you.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, at 9060 Hudson Road, opened to the public Sunday, July 22, kicking off with limited $5 showings plus 25 percent off concessions, excluding alcohol, through Thursday, July 26. Full programming begins Friday, July 27.
The Austin, Texas-born theater chain is known for its strict "no talking or texting" policy, in which guests get one warning before being asked to leave.
"A lot of theaters say they have that, but we actually enforce it," Chief Operating Officer Bill DiGaetano said.
However, staff is much more lenient when a theater is first opened and guests are still learning the rules, DiGaetano said. The tough-love approach is meant to appeal to serious moviegoers keen on avoiding distractions that are common in other theaters.
Alamo also strongly recommends that guests be in their seats 30 minutes before a show starts. There are no paid advertisements played before films — instead, there is a curated "pre-show" with special material related to the feature film.
"We are truly a movie theater for movie lovers, by movie lovers," DiGaetano said.
Alamo's nine auditoriums range from 47 to 232 seats — all cushioned recliners.
Another key part of Alamo's identity is its emphasis on craft beer and scratch-made food. The Woodbury location features 32 beers on tap from Twin Cities breweries, including Fulton Brewery, Sociable Cider Werks, Surly Brewing Company, Urban Growler Brewing Co. and Wabasha Brewing Company.
The extensive menu includes local favorites, like Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream and Bootstrap Coffee Roasters, plus other fare like cheese curds, fried pickle spears and chicken wings. There are also full meals, including a variety of salads, pizza, sandwiches, hot dogs and even brunch foods made in a 3,000-square-foot kitchen.
Instead of concession stands, Alamo theaters have wait staff who serve guests directly in their seats. Staff is trained to take silence seriously and be careful not to leave keys or change in their pockets. They're also taught to duck out of guests' lines of sight when serving during a film, DiGaetano said.
After a film starts, guests must hold up white cards to order food and drinks. These cards can also be used to let staff know that someone is being disruptive and should be given a warning.
Because of the emphasis on food, other Alamo locations have created unique menu items in the past to go along with top-rung movie premieres, such as "Deadpool," that are either outright or subtle references to the movie. For a screening of "Titanic," an Alamo theater offered its guests the last meal served aboard the doomed ocean liner.
For fans of more traditional theater snacks, the theater also has bottomless popcorn, buttered upon request, and four types of movie candy served in cardboard takeout containers (to avoid loud packaging, of course).
All tickets must be purchased ahead of time at drafthouse.com/twin-cities or with Alamo's mobile app.