What Sony Pictures acquiring Alamo Drafthouse means for movie theaters (2024)

What Sony Pictures acquiring Alamo Drafthouse means for movie theaters (1)

Cory Woodroof

June 12, 2024 6:35 pm ET

On Wednesday, the biggest domino post-Paramount Consent Decrees fell as Sony Pictures acquired the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater chain, per multiple reports.

After the 1948 Supreme Court ruling that barred certain entertainment studios from owning major stakes in theater exhibition companies went away in 2020, it opened the path for studios to basically own their own theater chains.

While pre-Sony Columbia Pictures wasn’t specifically included in that 1948 ruling and purchased interests in Walter Reade circuit in New York and Lowes Theater in the 1980s, this does mark for a historic moment for the company.

While Netflix and Amazon both own individual theaters in New York and Los Angeles, Sony taking on the popular Alamo Drafthouse theater chain represents a seismic shift in the industry.

The Hollywood Reporter noted that Alamo CEO Michael Kustermann will continue to run the operation with 35 locations.

“We are excited to make history with Sony Pictures Entertainment and have found the right home and partner for Alamo Drafthouse Cinema,” Kustermann said in a statement. “We were created by film lovers for film lovers. We know how important this is to Sony, and it serves as further evidence of their commitment to the theatrical experience. Together we will continue to innovate and bring exciting new opportunities for our teammates and moviegoers alike.”

As we enter a new era for movie studios and theatrical exhibitioners, let’s answer a few questions on what this means for Alamo and other chains like AMC, Regal and Cinemark.

What Sony Pictures acquiring Alamo Drafthouse means for movie theaters (2)


What will happen to the Alamo Drafthouse near me?

If you’ve got a beloved Alamo down the corner from you where you see all of the year’s biggest blockbusters, fear not. Your favorite Alamo Drafthouse shouldn’t be going anywhere (unless it’s in the Dallas area, as five Alamo locations closed recently… which could change with Sony’s involvement).

Tom Rothman, the head of Sony Pictures, confirmed in a statement his company’s excitement for acquiring the theater chain.

“Alamo Drafthouse has always held the craft of filmmaking and the theatrical experience in high esteem, which are fundamental shared values between our companies,” Rothman shared, via THR. “I’m jazzed that our company is doing this.”

As of now, it should be business as usual with the summer movie season in full swing. Sony doesn’t make this move if it wants to sell off the theaters for real estate deals; there’s clearly a plan in place for the company to benefit from the acquisition for its films and overall entertainment strategy.

That’s why you shouldn’t be surprised if Sony releases take a more prominent presence in the theater lobbies from an advertising standpoint, as Sony is undoubtedly going to leverage its newly acquired theater chain to benefit its own releases and with any repertory Sony screenings.

Basically, it’s going to be roughly the same experience until something changes, and we doubt those changes will be drastic.

What Sony Pictures acquiring Alamo Drafthouse means for movie theaters (3)

Omar Ornelas/ El Paso Times via Imagn Content Services, LLC

What does this mean for Alamo long-term?

It’s hard to say. Sony will absolutely use part of this acquisition to pump up its own library and future releases. Those will likely get priority when it comes to special events and promotions, but you’ll still probably be able to watch movies from other studios at an Alamo Drafthouse for the years to come.

Sony simply doesn’t produce enough movies during the year to make owning a theater chain like this fiscally beneficial for the company if they ignore films from competitors. However, how those companies negotiate what percentage of the ticket sales go to which side will be absolutely fascinating to watch in the months and years to come.

Our best guess is Alamo Drafthouse locations will run largely as they have while Sony owns them, just with added incentive to prop up its own films to theatergoers. In theory, Sony would get all the ticket sales that come from showing one of its own movies, which gives them lots of fiscal incentive for moviegoers to see Sony films at an Alamo Drafthouse as opposed to another theater.

It’s always possible Sony could sell Alamo down the road or decide to open and/or close locations as it sees fit. The main takeaway is that Sony owns the chain now and, as all businesses obviously do, intends to make lots of money on this merger.

What Sony Pictures acquiring Alamo Drafthouse means for movie theaters (4)

Dennis P. Carmody / USA TODAY NETWORK

What does this mean for other theater chains?

It could mean nothing or everything.

Sony breaking the ice by purchasing the Alamo Drafthouse could very well pave the way for other studios to eye acquisitions of struggling exhibition companies like AMC, Cineworld (which owns Regal Cinemas) and Cinemark.

While theatrical exhibition is not dying (despite how a post-strike 2024 summer at the movies is negatively impacting the box office), the industry is changing. Part of that change may well come with a major company like Apple, Amazon, Comcast, Netflix or Disney wanting to get into the exhibition game now that they legally can and no longer have to be first.

Our best guess is a company like AMC, saddled with billions in debt, gets enticed by a giant like Apple or Amazon, like Alamo did with Sony, sometime in the next half decade to make a merger.

The box office will most likely rebound in 2025 and 2026 with bigger-ticket items hitting theaters. The Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, DC, Avatar, Nintendo and Pixar brands will all bring in high-interest sequels and spinoffs in the next two years. However, AMC might feel it’s ultimately in better hands with a larger company pulling the strings and paying the bills.

One thing Sony doesn’t have that other studios do is a streaming branch in its portfolio, which complicated any acquisition of a chain exhibitioner. However, it will just take the right company and the right deal for a major chain to get voluntarily swallowed up by a bigger fish.

How this all goes in the future will be crucial to how movies go to theaters and who makes the money. We have a really good feeling theaters will still be here for decades to come, but Sony’s shot across the bow will reverberate for studios wanting a cut in the theaters that show their movies.


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What Sony Pictures acquiring Alamo Drafthouse means for movie theaters (2024)


What Sony Pictures acquiring Alamo Drafthouse means for movie theaters? ›

Sony promised to continue offering content from all studios and distributors, not just its own, so the variety of movies playing shouldn't change. All 35 of the chain's theaters will also operate under the Alamo Drafthouse brand instead of being renamed. The company's headquarters will remain in Austin.

What's so special about Alamo Drafthouse? ›

Best-in-Class Theatrical Presentation

By showcasing the very best first-run releases and also a mix of independents and classics, the average Alamo Drafthouse Cinema venue shows many more titles than other chains and offers something for everyone.

Did Sony buy Alamo Drafthouse? ›

Sony Pictures has acquired Alamo Drafthouse, the seventh-largest movie theater chain in North America. The company's 35 cinemas will continue to be operated by Alamo Drafthouse and its headquarters will remain in Austin, Texas.

Who owns the Alamo Drafthouse? ›

On Wednesday, Sony Pictures Entertainment announced it would acquire Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. But what does that mean for the Alamo Drafthouse experience moving forward? KXAN News in Austin asked moviegoers if they were worried this move could mean big changes for the popular movie theaters.

How much was Alamo Drafthouse sold for? ›

SPE acquired Alamo Drafthouse from owners Altamont Capital Partners, Fortress Investment Group and founder Tim League for finance sources tell us is a price tag of $200 million. The new Alamo Drafthouse Cinema will be managed within SPE under a new division, Sony Pictures Experiences.

What is the big deal with the Alamo? ›

The Battle and the Texas Revolution

The Battle of the Alamo in 1836 was part of the Texas Revolution in which the Mexican state of Tejas won independence and became a self-governing republic: Texas.

Did Alamo Drafthouse go out of business? ›

Alamo filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2021 before a private equity firm stepped in. The cinemas will still operate under the Alamo Drafthouse brand, Sony said, though they will be managed by a newly formed division at Sony led by Michael Kustermann, Alamo's chief executive.

Does Sony own Alamo Records? ›

In June of 2021, Universal's share of Alamo was acquired by Sony for around $125 million, with a total purchase of between $188 million and $225 million, according to Universal's earnings report that year.

What happened to Alamo Drafthouse Phoenix? ›

PHOENIX — The three Alamo Drafthouse-branded movie theaters in Chandler, Gilbert, and Tempe will soon become Majestic Theaters after the local franchise owners and the Texas-based movie theater chain have reached a settlement and agreed to part ways.

Who has Sony bought out? ›

Sony Pictures Entertainment has acquired Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the companies said Wednesday. Alamo, which operates 35 dine-in movie theaters across several states, will become part of a new division called Sony Pictures Experiences, which will be led by Alamo CEO Michael Kustermann.

How old is Alamo Drafthouse? ›

Alamo Drafthouse was founded in 1997 as a single screen, family-owned repertory theater in Austin, Texas, and has grown to 35 locations in North America.

What happened to the Alamo building? ›

Only a few buildings survived their efforts; the chapel was left in ruins, most of the Long Barracks was still standing, and the building that had contained the south wall gate and several rooms were mostly intact. The Texians briefly used the Alamo as a fortress in December 1836 and again in January 1839.

Is the Alamo movie set still standing? ›

Films Featured

John Wayne's epic The Alamo was filmed near Brackettville, Texas, on a set specifically made for the film. Though "Alamo Village" is no longer open to the public, the actual Alamo, in downtown San Antonio, is open every day except Christmas.

Did Stephen F Austin lead the Alamo? ›

Austin led the army to present day San Antonio and moved the Texian and Tejano volunteers to the Alamo. He was then relocated to New Orleans where he served as Texas commissioner. After this bitter defeat, Austin's troops surprised the Mexicans and defeated them in 18 minutes at the Battle of San Jacinto.

How much did it cost to film the Alamo? ›

How much are tickets for the Alamo? ›

What is special about Alamo? ›

Though the structure is famous for being the site of the 1836 battle between Texas revolutionary forces and the Mexican army, it played an important role in the events that led up to that infamous battle and the later course of Texas history. The Alamo was originally established by Catholic missionaries in 1718.

Does Alamo drafthouse kick you out? ›

We think our guests deserve the best possible cinematic experience, so we have a no-tolerance talking or texting policy. After one warning, disruptive guests will be kicked out of the theater without a refund.

Why can't you film inside the Alamo? ›

The Alamo Trust, Inc. and the Texas General Land Office reserve the right to withhold or withdraw photography and videography permits, licensing, and image use agreements at their discretion. The Alamo Trust, Inc. only lights the Church facade with neutral white light to illuminate this powerful symbol and artifact.

Is Alamo Victory worth it? ›

With Alamo Victory, your love of movies pays off in the best kind of way – with free food, free screenings, and exclusive access to special events. The more you watch, the faster you rank up, the more free stuff you earn.

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