2012 was a year of major growth and momentum for the Alamo Drafthouse. There are expansion and construction plans for many new locations, and Drafthouse Films and Badass Digest are going strong. Here in Austin we finally implemented a no-extra-charge reserved seating system. After some initial qualms, the reserved seating system is now one of the most frequently cited positive aspects of the Alamo Drafthouse experience, along with the custom preshow and the No Talking policy.
When we first unveiled the Reserved Seating model we held back on restricting late arrivals, because we assumed that most people would continue to show up a few minutes before showtime anyway. Interestingly, in some cases, that is exactly what did happen. By the time the feature had begun, the entire audience was seated and situated, with their orders placed, enjoying the show. In some other cases the majority of moviegoers arrived after the feature had begun. This kind of mass entrance proved to be very distracting.
Though we are all accustomed to (and more than likely not bothered by) the momentary distraction caused by someone rising to go to the restroom or by a server depositing an icy cold beer in front of us, when big groups of people are walking in during the credits, finding their seats, walking over laps or in front of rows, taking off coats, perusing the menu, conferring about orders, etc. it can be very disruptive. Additionally, the arrival of so many people en masse, can severely clog the food service process, which means that everyone has to wait a few extra minutes for that insanely delicious milkshake.
So, beginning today, we implement a change that is several months overdue. All patrons must be seated by the time the feature begins. Any late arrivers will be allowed to shift their tickets to later shows or receive a refund, whichever is more helpful. And through it all, we're not going to stop being your friendly neighborhood Alamo. If you're getting off the plane from Afghanistan and are rushing to the theater to join your family for IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE, we'll let that slide. The whole process is designed to provide the best movie-going experience for the greatest number of people.
Remember, the best way to be on time is to be early. Hope to see you many more times this year at the Alamo!